Saturday, 26 May 2012
A recent law by the EU is shaking heads in the internet world as website owners decide how to react to the new law that makes it illegal for a website not inform users from Europe that the site is using cookies.


Pretty much all websites use cookies and they are rarely used in a sinister way, they are usually used to remember what items you have in shopping cart and remember certain preferences or interests you may have indicated in the past. They improve the experience by making tasks move smoothly and leave the user feeling that computers generally are getting smarter by serving ads and content that is suited to user.


They are used without peoples knowledge, and EU law makers are concerned who has access to the stored data. The data is rarely accessed by humans as it serves algorithms that automatically look for similar content to display.


What does this mean for websites owners?

Website owners now have to make a choice either make changes to accommodate EU users or face of up to a hefty £500,000.00. You could also decide to block all European traffic if your site is geared towards a non-European demographic.


How can I tell if my websites uses cookies?


  • If you have one of the following features on your site then your site uses cookies.
  • A site where you can login to manage or comment and remember a password.
  • Social sharing buttons that allow users to share content directly with services like Twitter and Facebook.
  • A site that uses analytics tracking to monitor stats.
  • Many ad units also use cookies.



How can I make my website compliant to EU cookie law?

There are various methods that can be implemented to comply with the new law and they suit websites based on their function, design and purpose of the website. Some possible adaptions could be:


  • Pop-up
  • Splash screen
  • Header or Footer bar
  • TOS checkbox


Note: each option should be looked at carefully as while the do ensure compliance, they also come with some disadvantages too.


Conclusion

Most websites owners are unhappy about this news and in order to comply with the new rules, the added work will be an unwelcome burden. Many small companies in the EU and tech startups have already stated that they will not comply with new rules, so it will be interesting to see if any action is taken against them.


While increasing rights' and protect individuals privacy and in seeking to improve the education and understanding of internet and the responsibilities of users as a whole is a necessary mandate, should it really be enforced by a law making way for more pesty pop-ups, headers, footers and splash screens that will continue to confuse and put users off. Rather than stifle the growth of an industry that has been growing exceptionally well during the European finical crisis, time could be better spent educating people about cookies and other web terms that will allow this generation and future generations to grasp a better understanding of the internet. And of course look at ways to get Europe's economies back on track.




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