Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Home-made cookies? - over possibilities of self-control

What to do with the new requirements of the ePrivacy Directive? In the Netherlands the Dutch Parliament seemed to have found the answer to this question by introducing a draft of a law that would require internet service providers to use the opt-in system, i.e. consumers would have to explicitly agree to any application of cookies to their data (Cookies opt-in and net neutrality law...). However, the draft legislation has not yet been adopted by the second chamber of the Dutch Parliament and in the meantime it has been heavily criticized by all internet service providers, who consider it to be impractical and too difficult to implement. As a result of this law, the consumer would most likely have to click away hundreds of little windows per every internet page he would open, since many cookies are connected  to many websites.

Today major publishers in the Netherlands had made available a website which explains what a cookie is and how does it work (Uitgevers lanceren volg-me-niet register om onduidelijke cookiewet). By every advertisement on the news websites of these publishers there is an information icon attached, which upon a click leads the reader to that special website. The idea behind this initiative is to let the government see that the business can self-regulate the use of and control over cookies. The publishers claim that they seriously approach any privacy concerns of the consumers and that there are other alternatives to protecting consumers' privacy than the strictest method adopted by the Dutch Parliament, that is an obligation to implement an opt-in system by the internet service providers. Interestingly, they direct consumers also to a website Youronlinechoices.eu which is supposed to enable consumers to see what cookies are active at the moment on his consumer and how to switch them off. Unfortunately, this website stopped working alerady today, due to a huge traffic to it (Afmeldsite voor cookies uit de lucht wegens te veel belangstelling). Still, it remains to be seen whether these sort of initiatives will convince the Dutch Parliament to change the new law and to accept that the opt-out system protecting consumers from cookies might be the only acceptable solution to business at this moment.

What is a cookie?

How the new cookie law is supposed to work and what is wrong with it - explained in a short video:

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