Monday, May 18, 2009

Anti-Cookie Law - EU Protects Subjects From Web

"Please kill this cookie monster to save Europe's websites"
The Register (May 18, 2009)

"Opinion Visit any website and there's a good chance that it will send a cookie to your computer. But unless that cookie is essential, its delivery could become illegal under a strange new plan that has, very quietly, won EU support.

"Cookies are small text files that websites send to visitors' computers. Websites struggle to recognise their users without them. When someone visits OUT-LAW.COM for the first time, our site endeavours to send that visitor's computer a cookie. We do this with some help from Google, which offers a free service called Google Analytics. The Google Analytics cookie is used to count our visitors, a measure of success that we find rather helpful. This is just one way in which we use cookies. It's impossible for us to argue, though, that that cookie is essential to fulfilling the visitor's purpose...."

The Register's op-ed is a heads-up about the EU's Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive.

I should think that this anti-cookie weirdness passed quietly. "Most websites use Google Analytics (including the site of the UK's privacy chief, at or a similar traffic analysis tool...." Even if the EU's leaders don't know how the Web works, someone on their staff must have told them how daft this set of regulations is.

I've known people who are as revulsed by cookies as a full-bore vegetarian is by steak. All cookies: not just the ones that get flagged during malware scans.

I wouldn't want them to be forced to set their browsers so they can shop at

I don't think the rest of us should be forced to live with their neo-Luddite fears.

And, I don't think that people who provide content and services on the Web should be forced to comply with cookiephobic regulations dreamed up by the EU.

Of course, it could be worse. The UE could have made carrier pigeons bred in Yorkshire or Lichtenstein the only legal means of long-distance communications.

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