Are you worried about websites you visit using cookies? If so, you’re completely wrong; probably swept up in a tide of hysteria whipped up by concerned but technically ignorant campaigners. The Internet is full of such people, and the EU politicians have been pandering to them because politicians are a technically illiterate bunch too.
A cookie is a note that is stored by your web browser to recall some information you’ve entered in to a web site. For example, it might contain (effectively) a list of things you’ve added to your shopping cart while browsing, or the login name you entered. Web sites need them to interact, otherwise they can’t track who you are from one page to another. (Well there are alternatives, but they’re cumbersome).
So what’s the big deal? Why is there a law coming in to force requiring you to give informed consent before using a web site that needs cookies? Complete pig-ignorance and hysteria from the politicians, that’s why.
There is actually a privacy issue with cookies – some advertisers that embed parts of their website in another can update their cookies on your machine to follow you from one web site to another. This is a bit sneaky, but the practice doesn’t require cookies specifically, although they do make it a lot easier. These are known as tracking cookies. However, this practice is not what the new law is about.
So, pretty much every small business with a web site created more than 12 months ago (when this was announced) or written by a “web developer” that probably didn’t even realise how their CMS used cookies, is illegal as from today. Probably including this one (which uses WordPress). Nonetheless, head of the ICO’s project on cookies, Dave Evans, is still “planning to use formal undertakings or enforcement notices to make sites take action”.
What’s actually going to happen is that scamming “web developers” will be contacting everyone offering to fix their illegal web sites for an exorbitant fee.
So – if you want to continue reading articles on this blog you must be educated enough to know what a cookie is and not mind about them. As an extra level of informed concent you must presumably agree that Dave Evans of the ICO and his whole department is an outrageous waste of tax-payers money. (In fareness to Dave Evans, he’s defending a daft EU law because that’s his job – its the system and not him, but he’s also paid to take the flack).