Is the Cookie Law outdated and frankly just annoying?

Cookies are a basic part of how the Internet works but there’s hardly anyone I know that is in favour of pop ups on just about every website due to the EU’s Cookie Law. They store little bits of information about you such as when you are logged into a site, what you add to your shopping basket and all the useful things that personalise websites to you. Cookies are also used to track what you do on the Internet and can be used to link your activities across sites, for instance if your browse a flight for your next trip abroad, you might then see adverts for flights to the same destination on social media sites.

The EU hates Cookies with a passion as they’re big on protecting your personal information and that’s why a Cookie Law came into effect. It spawned horrible pop-ups on websites across the web which you have to click to accept or decline to whenever you visit a new site. The law was relaxed a little for implied consent but GDPR strengthened it and it’s back with a vengeance.

One of the reasons I detest the Cookie Law is because an increasing number of US sites refuse to bow down to the EU. Rather than installing Cookie Policy pop ups to infuriate 350 million US consumers, they’ve taken the attitude that it’s easier just to geo-block EU consumers and block them from even seeing their websites. That’s annoying.

Now, the Court of Justice of the European Union has decreed that “Storing cookies requires internet users’ active consent. A pre-ticked checkbox is therefore insufficient”. In a judgement that comes from German Court asking for an EU ruling (a country where it’s considered normal behaviour for a retailer to sue another claiming an unfair advantage if they don’t comply with every banal regulation going), the Court decided that the “consent which a website user must give to the storage of and access to cookies on his or her equipment is not validly constituted by way of a pre-checked checkbox which that user must deselect to refuse his or her consent”.

The Court went on to say that you have to tell the user how long the cookies will last for and and whether or not third parties may also have access to the cookies your site places on their computer. This is clearly information overload and best advice is firstly to not use Cookies where they are not needed but more importantly surely it’s time for the Cookie Law to change to acknowledge that Cookies are pretty essential to the Internet and that by using the Internet acceptance of Cookies can be implied to be accepted?

“The court has clearly established that current EU rules are outdated. Bombarding internet users with cookies isn’t user-friendly, informative, or productive.
 
When retrieving the information from your device, the website knows what particularly caught your eye, and they can improve their website structure or marketing based on this data. However, cookies can also be useful to the user, in that it stores your password, and keeps you logged into your favourite social media platform or airline account.
 
A well-reflected reform would put all cookie use under implicit consent, with the knowledge that users can use often free and already existing software that allows them to opt-out of all cookie use that they deem unsuited for them. This allows consumers to take their data use into their own hands, without an unnecessary and ineffective pop-up on every website.”

– Bill Wirtz, Senior Policy Analyst , Consumer Choice Center

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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