Would you accept a request from your favourite website asking for your location, personal details and what kind of websites you visit?
Probably not right, but that’s what most pages do automatically without you even knowing it. In fact, over 92% of websites use these files, or ‘cookies’ as a way of remembering you and where you’ve been clicking. They are hugely useful to make your online experience faster and more efficient. If you’re shopping, products that might be of use to you will appear, or if you’re wondering what the weather will be at the weekend, the website already knows your location.
In May 2011, a new law originating from the EU was passed that requires website owners to ask permission from you to gather and use this information. Denmark and Estonia were the only ones to actually implement this, and the UK gave us year’s grace period.
So, from May 25th 2012 the websites will not only, have to inform users about the cookies that are in place, but ask permission to use them.
If the page owner chooses not to bother asking and just leaving it the way it’s been running previously, the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) have the power to fine them up to £500,000! Incidentally, the ICO website is one of the only sites to already have the acceptance form on.
In the EU ePrivacy Directive report by Econsultancy, the Chairman of Cambridge-based consultancy IT Governance, Alan Calder, said “Most people running business-to-consumer websites take the view that the requirement will damage their Google rating by forcing them to use pop-ups,” he said. “And it will put consumers off by getting them to sign up for something they don’t really understand, in a complicated two-step process when Web designers have worked hard over the years to bring down the number of steps users need to go through.”
Calder advised website owners to, at the very least, do a cookie audit before the May 26 deadline. “That way you are not ignoring the law,” he said. “The ICO is unlikely to impose a fine on companies that are at least showing they are willing and thinking about the issue.”
Would being asked to gather information put you off a website, even though they’ve been doing it for years? Do you think this is going to be impossible to police due to the infinitely increasing number of websites or will you blindly accept any terms and conditions that get in the way of you and your favourite sites?
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