European-Based Website Cookies Set To Crumble Thanks To EU Directive

cookie-monsterJust in case you don’t know what a cookie is (other than a tasty snack) it’s a small piece of text that is saved onto your computer by websites which is then used for things like authentication, storing preferences and even your shopping cart details – it basically tells the website who you are and when you’ve been on that website before.

However, they do have their nasty side in certain circumstances and it is because of this that new European laws have been introduced to try and regulate the manner in which businesses can use cookies on their websites something which could have a real effect on how we use them.

These laws come in the form of an EU e-Privacy directive which thanks to the fact that we are a member of the European Union will come into force in the UKL on 25th May, and it tries to strike a delicate balance between the benefits and problems of cookies.

Have you ever wondered why after you’ve gone to look at holidays in Egypt, or searched for toy Elephants on the internet you find that you see a lot of adverts for those same things suddenly popping up? That’s because when you have gone on those sites they have left cookies in your browser and their adverts are then picking these up and using them to track where you’ve been and uses this information to chose which kind of adverts to show you.

If you want to know more about the way in which marketing companies can use the data stored by website on your computer the IAB (a body which represents internet advertising firms) has created a site in order to comply with the directive which explains how it all works and allows people to opt out:

It is really a privacy issue that this directive is hoping to solve and as a result it demands that users are fully informed of when cookies are being stored and what is in them. This could well have a big impact on the more innocent use of cookies, that is to remember login details, allow oneself to navigate quickly through the site etc etc.

We could also start to see more pop-ups and boxes asking us if we mind having cookies and allowing websites to gather cookies, something that will probably confuse a lot of people who have no idea what they actually are! – You can check out a great example of what the EU “Cookie” Directive could turn European-based websites into – don’t you think EU websites are going to have a real competitive disadvantage now? Could we see more online companies moving to the US?

This does all seem a little bit over the top – I for one will be more annoyed by the continuous stream of boxes asking me if I mind the websites using cookies that I would be by behavioural advertising which to be honest is actually kind of useful! I for one would rather have adverts for something I am actually interested in than ones for moisturiser and SAGA cruises that are of no interest, plus more targeted advertising means higher payment rates to support the continued existance of your favourite websites!

Also, if you’re really that bothered about online browsing privacy, then you can always use privacy options and modes in your web browser, much like you can manage your marketing company data privacy with Allow.

But unfortunately it will be the law, and come late May you could see a noticeable change in the way that especially big websites operate with regards to cookies. It is worth noting that cookies that log online shopping baskets are specifically excluded from these measures which could mean that there is some scope for more to be excluded in the future, but we will have to wait and see just how annoying this development will turn out to be!

What do you think this will do to European-based Internet businesses? Will we see websites flocking outside the EU to avoid this kind of regulation? Will this ultimately hinder our economic recovery?

Do you as a user consider website tracking to be an issue at all if it means that your participation is supporting the websites that you regularly use so that they can remain in operation and provide you with a free service?

Via – BBC