In 2009, the council of the European Union approved a new legislation that would require Web users to consent to the use of cookies. On the 27th of May this year the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) jumped aboard. The new UK law states that the Web user must give his express consent to websites that track behaviour. So before a Web user enters a website a notification will appear stating the use of cookies or tracking (in which the user can accept or not accept). UK websites and companies have up to twelve months to figure out the best way to gain “cookies” consent from Web users.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly concerning cookies:

The Good
Cookies are simple text files stored in a web browser’s cache in order to track browsing habits (so you don’t have to login every time you visit your favourite online news source or if you purchase something online, the chosen items will still be in the shopping cart when you return). Most eCommerce sites could not run without the use of cookies. Cookies are used in order to give the Web user the most relevant content, or in other words, a way for websites to remember things a Web user did on a particular website.

The Bad
Some people simply do not like to be tracked. They either do not want machines to remember which sites they have visited or frequent often (this could be embarrassing, or even incriminating) or they don’t want to be monitored where and how they browse (companies use this info to research consumer buying behaviour). Cookies can also be used to tailor advertising to an item or topic the Web user has shown an interest in before.

The Ugly
With the new cookie rule into effect, chances are more pop up’s, Terms and Conditions or other similar forms will appear every time a new site is entered. This might somewhat maim the user experience. Advertisements will also not be customized to user preferences such as they are currently.

While the new law should give the user extra control, it could negatively impact the internet browsing experience.  It is yet to be seen how creative the tech community will be able to manipulate the new law.

If you would like more information regarding cookies visit All About Cookies.