The Cookie Law

A new law is coming in soon that will make websites get your express permission before storing cookies on your computer. This law, which comes into effect on 26th May, will bring UK firms in line with EU law on the matter. This will help keep the privacy of individuals private by allowing you to choose what sites can keep information about you.

What it does

The top web browsers are aiding this through the use of “Do Not Track software” (DNT). What this does is to tell a website and all the various adverts that may be present not to store information about you. As it stands though, DNT software doesn’t force a website not to store cookies and this is what the new law is trying to do. Right DNT only works if the website wants to listen to it and what the new law is to do is force the website to listen to the DNT. Further to having to gain permission from a user, the law states that the user must be informed about the use of cookies. The law doesn’t just target cookies though, HTML5 and flash can also gain this information and in a much more sneaky way.

Why have it

When cookies came in it was to aid websites to keep track of what users do on their site and to make surfing the web faster and easier. However other companies saw some advantages cookies could give them, advertisers. Advertisers use cookies to keep track of what you search for and buy so that they can target adverts at you so they you are likely to click (which is what gets them money) and possibly buy the item(s). But use of cookies didn’t stop at aiding the use of the internet and giving you useful adverts, they are often used now to keep details about the computer you’re using, web browser operating system and many other things that can create fairly unique profiles of a computer. Whilst all this information is “anonymous” it is still possible and quite easy to assign a user to information gained about them. This can be quite scary for people who value their privacy (although we put much more private information that is easier to get to a lot of the time on facebook and other social media) highly.

How effective will it be

If users take care when surfing the internet then the law can be very effective at stopping sites from storing information about them. However, how many people will actually read the popup box telling them what cookies are going to be saved and what they will do? The same number that read terms and conditions in my guess. Also the law doesn’t stop companies storing more information than they really need and then selling it on if they want. Although that sort of thing is covered under other legislation. It makes it more legal if they actually tell you they will do this when you allow cookies. So my recommendation is, if you want to remain private, turn DNT on, never allow cookies from anywhere and don’t sign up to anything on the internet…

For more information about the cookie law look here:

Lastly, I’m sorry this wasn’t about a law that gives everyone a free cookies everyday.

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