EU Cookie law – almost here!

Why I'm annoyed with the EU cookie lawI’ve been wondering why this change to the law has me so frustrated when there are so many that don’t even make me blink?

The conflict I am having is because I want to comply with this law, but I can’t find a way that is not going to hurt my visitors, clients and myself. I’m the sort of person who would never knowingly break the law so this goes against my values at the deepest level (although driving at or below the speed limit in the UK will get you run down!).

I agree with the underlying intention of stopping behavioural based tracking. But I don’t want it to take away the valuable tools that I need to improve my website and let my visitors enjoy their visit. It’s a no win situation. The best I can offer is 3 points at the bottom of this page.

The questions I ask myself are, “How is knowing how many visitors I have and which pages they enjoy causing a problem with their privacy? How is letting you see information about my facebook page, or my latest tweets threatening your online safety?”

OK, I know that there are concerns with how facebook, Google and Twitter might be using this information but surely it would be better to produce legislation that targets them rather than me?

Even government departments are having a hard time coming up with solutions and other areas I use for advice like business links have nothing in their templates about the EU regulations

The two most popular plugins for WordPress that are intended to help you to comply with the law are EU Cookie Directive and Cookie Control. Both of these operate by displaying a message to your visitors. Directive is more prominent but less configurable, Control allows you to set more options and leads you through the process. Both include self promotion and advertising so it will your personal preference and decision if you want to use either of these but they seem like the best pick from the WordPress repository at the moment.

In any case you need to be prepared for May 26, 2012 and the most common steps recommended are:

  1. Conduct an Audit your site so you know what cookies you are using.
    A handy plugin that will list cookies is Cookie Cat, it lists all the cookies in use – I’m not a huge fan of the fact that it also makes you install another plugin but you can use it to get the information you need and then remove it.
  2. Assess the cookies you have and put them into categories so you can tackle them in the right order.
    BT.com has a good description of how they have done this on their more about cookies pageand defined them as:

    • Strictly necessary,
    • Performance,
    • Functionality,
    • Targeting.

    This is increasing order of seriousness with the Strictly necessary ones exempt from the law.

  3. Be transparent and educate your visitors.
    Here are some examples:

Ultimately you are responsible for your site and how it is operated, I don’t believe that small sites who are not performing targeted behavioural tracking and targeting will be prosecuted any time soon but that is not legal advice or a suggestion. It will be important to show at least an attempt to comply with the spirit of this legislation which seems to be about protecting a visitor’s privacy and being transparent about what information you collect and how it is used.

Here’s to a last minute amendment that gives us privacy with sanity!

Brian
your ‘Peoples Geek’

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