(cookies) KEEP CALM & CARRY ON

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 32 seconds

WHY WE’RE KEEPING OUR COOKIES CUPBOARD STOCKED.

Website owners have been told that they must change the way they explain the use of cookies on their websites and, if they don’t, they face a potentially large fine. Over 90% of websites use cookies. These are the cookie laws that everyone has been talking about and are worrying many businesses. We have come to the conclusion that we will Keep Calm & Carry On.

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With all the historical references around the Jubilee last weekend, we were reminded of the stoicism of our parents and grandparents during the last war. In the face of the battle ahead of us, we are staying calm.

First: What are cookies? Shouldn’t they be called biscuits? And how does it affect me?

Every time you log on to the internet, a browser will open. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera etc. are all browsers. Once you’re in, you’ll probably be on your homepage which is often a search engine like Google. This is where you’ll search for whatever it is you want to find. If you search for “shoes”, for example, Google will remember this and the tiny bit of software they use to do it is the cookie.

In fairness, they could have called them biscuits or any other term they liked, but software programmers can be a little odd at times (we should know)! An easy way to think about it is the Hansel & Gretel story. The cookies leave tiny little crumbs of information. The website uses these crumbs to follow and find it’s way back to what you liked when you first visited it.

All of this sounds quite sensible. It makes targeted marketing easy and seems time saving when you think of your favourite items on Tesco’s web site. The only worry is when you think of everything that you’ve ever searched for on Google. That’s a lot of crumbs. This is what has worried the EU enough to create a privacy law making all websites ask their visitors for permission to use cookies.

So. What’s the problem?

The problem is that while greater privacy for individuals is perfectly laudable, implementing requests on a website for permission to use cookies, needs cookies. The law in itself is ultimately flawed. Here’s a great example:

The BBC now has a section about cookies on it’s website to allow some degree of control by the user. You can choose to enable cookies or not. Good old beeb, you might think. But even this contravenes the law. In order for you to be able to choose whether you want to enable the cookies or not, you will have to click “yes” or “no”. That yes/no button is a cookie. An unavoidable Catch 22 situation; even the Government’s own website needs to use cookies for all of the various services it offers to have any value.

Some major vehicle leasing companies have banners on their websites like “Cookies allow my website to serve visitors the content they need. Get used to it. The EU cookie law is an ass.”

Ultimately, we believe that the matter will become one for the browser providers to deal with as they’re, generally, the first port of call when you visit the internet.

So. What do I do?

Easy question. Nothing. There is nothing you should do yet. The Government has said that they understand just how complicated this change is and: “that we will take a soft approach to this legislation”. Finding a solution for each individual website will end up becoming a waste of time and money with a law that we feel is unenforceable. We strongly advise all website owners not to rush in and panic like so many did with the millennium bug (remember that money-spinning chestnut?). There’s no need to adjust you’re website yet. If you’re worried give us a call, but don’t be fooled into having a “cookie report” or “cookie compliance survey” compiled for you at any cost.

This is an issue that will keep on running and we have only touched on the subject here. We will follow it as it goes. Stay tuned.

Chin up, cookie loving chums! Our urgent message in these troubling times, is to KEEP CALM and CARRY ON!

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