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OPLIN 4Cast #224: Web wants cookies

Posted in 4cast

Everybody likes cookies, at least the kind you eat. But when it comes to web cookies, some people have concerns. A web cookie is a tiny file that a web browser saves on your computer when you visit some websites. A cookie can be used to store your authentication credentials, your site preferences, the number of times you’ve visited a site, your shopping cart contents, etc. In other words, cookies can store some very private information. For that reason, the European Union has issued an “e-Privacy” directive that includes a requirement that websites get the explicit consent of the user before storing cookies. As the May 25 deadline for complying with this law approaches, however, resistance is growing.

  • New net rules set to make cookies crumble (BBC News)  “The section of the directive dealing with cookies was drawn up in an attempt to protect privacy and, in particular, limit how much use could be made of behavioural advertising. This form of marketing involves people being tracked across websites, with their behaviour used to create a profile that dictates the type of adverts they see.”
  • New EC directive could affect marketers ability to target their advertising (target internet)  “The directive has been heralded as potentially ‘damaging’ by the Internet Advertising Bureau [IAB] as it would have serious implications for behavioural marketing and targeted advertising based on our browsing habits. The main aim of the directive is to give the consumer more control over the personal data which is stored as cookies leaving a breadcrumb trail of where we’ve been and what we’ve looked at, a treasure trove of information for any digital marketer.”
  • Governments ‘not ready’ for new European privacy law (BBC News)  “The IAB and the European Advertising Standards Authority have both argued for self-regulation, and have drawn up guidelines for cookie use on websites. ‘They are pretty poor in our opinion, they are not very transparent,’ said Rob Reid, senior policy adviser for consumer watchdog Which? But the other extreme—of making consumers consent to every cookie presented to them—is not feasible either, he said. ‘Privacy groups have argued to have an opt in for every cookie but that would make browsing a complete nightmare,’ he said.”
  • Stupid EU cookie law will hand the advantage to the US, kill our startups stone dead (TechCrunch Europe/Mike Butcher)  “The new European e-Privacy directive is supposedly to protect privacy, although seems to be operating in a bubble. Privacy controls have existed in Web browsers for years. Indeed there are even privacy specific browsers. But consumers have consistently ignored them and carried on happily using cookies, with many people knowing that cookies actually help the browsing experience.”

Cookie use fact:
Last April, Security Space did a survey of over 2 million websites and found that about 60,000 of them stored cookies on users’ computers for more than a year.