A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a piece of data stored by a website within a browser, and then subsequently sent back to the same website by the browser. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember things that a browser had done there in the past, which can include having clicked particular buttons, logging in or having read pages on that site months or years ago.
No website can run without cookies as they would never know the stats and have people to be able to log in.
The EU wants to protect people but without education, people will opt out if they don’t fully understand the consequences. This will throw the affiliate business model - where people receive commission for directing traffic to transactional websites - into disarray as it will no longer be able to be tracked. On a positive note, you’ll no longer see those ‘magic’ banners which temptingly show you something you’ve just been looking at on another site.
It could be a boon for online advertising as retailers can no longer rely on the carrot of commission for websites to feature their products.
People have always been able to disable cookies and some browsers offer this capability but now the onus is on the website owners. The EU legislation comes into force on 26 May and breaches of the code could cost companies up to £500,000. It will introduce four new categories for cookies, which the ICC - International Chamber of Commerce - suggests will be identified with four icons. They will distinguish between cookies that are ‘Strictly necessary’ for a website to function; those necessary for a site to monitor its ‘performance’; cookies that add ‘functionality’ such as remembering a password; and ‘Targeting Cookies’, which collect several pieces of information about users’ browsing habits. There is a lot of grey area here and website owners will be seeing what each other is doing and how they are dealing with it. Whether you offer an opt-in or opt-out option is up to you.
Stephen Pattison, CEO of ICC UK, said: “Educating consumers about cookies and their uses has to be the first step in complying with the new EU rules”.
The EU wants plain language that the consumer can understand but first of all we need to start at the very beginning and let people know what cookies are and what they do. Watch this space.