I’m sure most people are wholly unaware that today actually marks the eve of a new European law governing usage of cookies coming into practice. But rather than rushing through the regulation, the UK Government has announced that businesses in this country will be given an extra year to comply.
For those that aren’t entirely au fait with technical jargon, cookies are essentially a means of storing personal data on a device for use on particular sites. For instance, if you save your password on a particular site or choose to be automatically logged in, this is probably the work of a cookie.
The EU directive essentially wants to ensure that people are fully notified that users are aware that these details are being stored. This means that site owners need to have greater transparency, or stop using cookies altogether.
So what’s the big deal, can’t we all just remember our passwords?
Theoretically, because a cookie stores personal information, they could be abused. Some people may not even know that they’ve had them implanted on their computer or that they are being tracked. So there will be some that view this as a positive development. However, the knock on effect for some businesses and users could be huge.
We have grown accustomed to logging in to our most regularly visited sites immediately – certainly at least only having to input a password. That could change in an instant. So too would website statistics. If you own a site and are reliant on Google Analytics, then your data could be hugely skewed as more and more people remove cookies. People can already opt out of Analytics and other cookies; however very few do currently. This new ruling will, more likely than not, see this number rise sharply.
Alec has covered in far more detail than I could ever hope to achieve in his post: E-Privacy Directive on Cookies. However, the most important news for UK businesses is that you have another year to reach full compliance; although there’s a good chance that the legislation may be amended in the interim. So a slow roll out is the order of the day, which is probably no bad thing.