€0.2: The EU Cookie Legislation

Posted in on 5 December 2014

Are cookies dangerous?

No, they are simply text files and are not (for example) viruses or Trojans. They cannot in themselves do anything to your computer; they can only be interacted with by your web browser and the website which set them on your computer. It would be impossible to use most websites without allowing cookies. Amazon, eBay, Gmail, Facebook all store cookies on your PC in order to make them work.

However cookies are also used by third parties to keep track of how people browse the internet more generally, not just how they visit a specific website but where they go afterwards and which other websites they use. This specific kind of monitoring uses what are called tracking cookies.

So, what’s the plan?

Well government, well not the government, it was actually the European Union which decided that something had to be done. Rather than make browses more secure and make it easier for people to choose for themselves how and when to be altered about cookies the EU has decided that every website which wants to use cookies will need to get permission before storing anything on the uses computer. From now on (legally) websites based in the United Kingdom will need to ask for the permission of users before storing anything in cookies on the user’s computer.

From now on legally any website in the European Union will need to ask for your permission before storing any cookies on your PC. As the video says this pretty much means pop-ups or other flashing banners on websites to grab your attention then a few pages worth of explanation – what are cookies, why it wants to store cookies and why you shouldn’t click ‘no’.

What should have been done.

If would have been highly beneficial for all involved if those who composed the legislation where not complete idiots.

For those unsure what to do with their website the best information I’ve found so far has been on Civic UK – http://civicuk.com/cookie-law/configuration – which has a guide for installing a floating message box which informs users of the change in law and how it affects them.