June 27, 2011

How the Cookie law crumbles

The EU has an amazing ability to lay waste to anything that it touches. Everything from fisheries to economies; once the EU gets hold of them they die. The next target for the EU's hug of death is the internet. The EU has specified that all websites that have users from the EU (which means basically all of them, no matter where they are based) that use Cookies (which means basically all of them) must get explicit consent from the users before placing the Cookie. Yep, the EU looked at common websites and decided that what they really needed was a blizzard of pop-ups that had to be clicked through before the site became usable. Being an EU directive this gets pushed though the beaurocracies of the members states without the democratic elements of their governments being able to look at the proposal and tell them that they were talking out of their collective arseholes. The directive has been pushed through the British beaurocracy in the normal way and was supposed to have already come into force; however nobody was ready, not even the Information Commisioner who is supposed to enforce the law, so it was delayed by a year.

Information Commissioner's Office is now compliant with the law that they were supposed to enforce and a Freedom of Information request has been issued for their statistics. The result is striking, after getting in line with the EU's directive there was a 90% drop in the apparent usage of their website. Of course we have no idea whether this is because these people opted out, or whether they simply left to go elsewhere because having to click through a blizzard of pop-ups is nobody's idea of good web experience. For web shops this is dangerous as this is potentially a large number of customers going elsewhere. For advertising funded sites this is disasterous as this is 90% of their revenue evapourating overnight. Thank you EU, can we leave yet?


Blogger View from the Solent said...

"90% drop in the apparent usage"

Note the word apparent. If you reject e.g a cookie from google analytic then you drop off the stats.
Firefox users have had (optional) complete control of cookies for years. My default setting is to have any cookies I allow deleted at the end of a session; only a few sites are excluded from this.

10:27 am  
Blogger chris said...

When you delete cookies at the end of the session you will still show up in the statistics, but each visit will be considered a new visit rather than a repeat. Since it is still recorded in the statistics it can still be used by the site to demonstrate that somebody have viewed the site to advertisers, and that is what is important. An advertiser seeing only 10% of a sites actual readership will only be willing to fork over 10% of what they would otherwise. Of course that is assuming that the other 90% is still there and has not gone to some other site which is operated by somebody that is willing to put the experience of their users above the dictates of the EU.

9:10 pm  

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