First off on our new topical blog is the EU Cookie Law, which although came into effect nearly a month ago, we feel is tremendously important to write about.
What are Cookies?
Cookies are little text files that are downloaded onto your computer, files which store information about what you do on the internet – user behaviour. Yes! Almost every website is watching you to some extent.
If you want to read more, then here’s a Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie
What are Cookies used for?
- Providing login facilities – so the system can remember who you are when you cross pages – so we don’t have to harass you for your username and password each time you do something.
- Tracking your actions – we do it: by understanding how you manipulate our website, we can work hard to create a better experience for you!
- Provision of online shopping baskets – cookies allow websites to maintain a shopping basket for each user – but this has to be stored on your computer… the resources required to store them on our servers would be horrendously huge, perhaps verging on the impossible!
- Targeted advertising and information – Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, they all do it – they store your searches in cookies and track your behaviour. Why? Well – they want to provide you with information and adverts that are relevant to you, as an individual. (Granted, this does not sound too scary – but imagine what they know about you, given the sheer number of searches performed daily!)
The EU Cookie Law – in a nutshell
- Essentially a law to make the average, perhaps ignorant, internet user more aware of their privacy in relation to cookie technology.
- “EU Cookie Law”, or (an amendment to) the e-Privacy directive, to give it it’s official name, has actually been around for a while now, since 26th May 2011, however it did not come into effect until the 26th May 2012, as the UK was so greatly unprepared for its arrival, the government allowed businesses one year to adapt their websites.
- Websites such as Facebook, and their use of the ‘like’ button have escalated the issue, due to them using cookies to track users on websites other than their own.
Our stance: EU Cookie Law is EUseless.
Please understand: Webetecture are not against user’s having privacy and greater control over that privacy – in fact we’re very much in favour – however we do not believe this new law will actually do anything useful to improve our current degree of privacy…
So why do we think it's EUseless? Well, here's a few reasons:
- Legitimate cookies do not contain anything that can identify you as a person – no name, no date of birth, nothing. In fact the majority of cookies hold information related to your searches, for advertising purposes – for instance, you searched for a web design agency, so the next time you’re on a website that features targeted advertising, you’re going to be provided with adverts for web designers! This is relevant, targeted, advertising!
- Illegitimate cookies that might steal your credentials, such as online banking, will still be downloaded to your computer… They just won’t get your consent! This law will do absolutely nothing to stop these criminals – it just makes them even more illegal!
- Responsibility. Here’s an example to illustrate exactly what we mean: You add a Facebook ‘like’ button to your website, which collects data about your behaviour, and sends it back to Facebook. Now – you would think that this is the responsibility of Facebook? Right? WRONG: It is your responsibility, and failing to comply comes with a very hefty consequence… a £500,000 fine for those in the UK.
- Causes a more inconvenient browsing experience – to have to give consent for each and every website you use that utilises cookies.
- Over 90% of websites, as of 26th May 2012, are illegal. That’s makes 90% of law abiding website owners, criminals. Do I smell a money spinner?
What action have we taken?
- For now, we have abandoned the use of the very powerful Google Analytics!
- We’ve written this blog announcing our disgust at this ridiculous new law, but – it is the law, and no matter how much we disagree with it, we have to obey.
For our web design clients…
Fortunately for our past clients, we have not resorted to the use of Cookie’s, and we can confirm that all websites that have been developed by Webetecture comply with the new EU cookie law – so don’t panic!
For our hosting clients…
If your website does not comply with the EU cookie law, then please, we do encourage that you look into their removal as soon as possible, or implement a system whereby you can obtain user consent!
And for those of you who are not our clients…
We can help you to make your site comply with the EU Cookie Law – contact us, and we’ll sort you out!
That’s all folks!
We do hope that you have enjoyed our venomous post about the EU Cookie Law. Feel free to comment, share, whatever.
Want to know more? Here’s some resources
- 2 and a half minutes on the law
- Cookie Law deferral
- An article about HTTP Cookies.
- UK Government: Web Analytics are “essential”
- Official Guidelines
- A website against the EU Cookie Law
- 95% of firms not prepared for the EU Cookie Law
- How will the new law on cookies affect internet browsing?
- Wired: EU Cookie law is “Barking mad”
- A good resource all about the EU Cookie Law.
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