The Elephant In The Room: European e-Privacy Directive
The recent success and widespread use of of remarketing has certainly lead to some annoyance with its smart but creepy banners. Here’s an example from Twitter:
Together with hightened privacy concerns and debates around the policies of Facebook, Google Street View and others, it is hardly surprising that regulations are being proposed. The use of customer behaviour data has been reviewed and our European friends have decided to make cookies strictly opt-in. So as of 25 May, webmasters will will need to obtain prior and explicit consent for using cookies before deploying them on visitors’ machines. Here is an extract from the directive:
“…on condition that users are provided with clear and precise information…about the purposes of cookies… Users should have the opportunity to refuse to have a cookie or similar device stored on their terminal equipment.”
Full text available here.
While we’re unlikely to ditch cookies completely, it is clear that visitors will need more control. And it could be a case of browsers to the rescue. Having easily accessible controls for blocking individual, first and third-party cookies within the browser could be just the solution to make the European bureaucrats happy. Alternatively, centralised tag management systems like Tagman can help with on-site controls.
To me the whole cookie business is a response to the aggressive comercialisation of the web and people’s reaction against it. But it is not up to the EU to “correct” us. Surely, it will be those companies that strike a good balance (set frequency caps, do not resell data, etc) that will prosper naturally. It is exactly events like the recent Facebook scandals that will correct our ways in the long run. Either that, or Internet users will get used to it all over time. Still, it is not about what I think, but what the DCMS thinks – and that we’ll find out shortly. Keep your eyes peeled, eCommerce chums!
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