Digital Marketing News – EU Privacy Law, Five Months On

 

Five months have passed since the EU Privacy Directive became law in the UK and it seems we’re no closer to finding a solution than we were before the law came into effect back in May.

All in all the new laws seem to be built on the misguided assumption that all cookies are evil and that by allowing them to be saved onto your browser you are in fact allowing in the big bad in to do go knows what with your data.

The ICO guidance didn’t help matters much and only seemed to muddy the waters even further. And while the country is looking to them for guidance they seem to have gone unsettlingly quiet. Perhaps this is because they, like the rest of us are continuing to scratch their heads as to how to implement the new directive.

They’ve made a start on their own site by placing a notification on the front page alerting users to the cookies it uses. However, you’ll find that by this point you’ll already have one logged that you weren’t asked for permission for.

So far the only practical advice has been for all companies to review their use of cookies and identify where and how they use them. However, what to do with this information once you have it is still up in the air and the clock is ticking.

Many are looking to the browser companies to find a solution that can be adopted by individual sites, but with time running out and not even a sniff of an idea coming forward, companies are now being forced to spend time and money trying to solve the problem themselves.

But what does the solution look like? Users opting out of all cookies could mean they lose a lot of the usability they enjoy from their favourite sites, with personalised shopping carts a thing of the past which means online advertising revenue could take a big hit. Or the alternative that users battle against never-ending pop ups which request their permission each and every time the site wants to log a cookie.

Balancing out complying with the law and a good user experience isn’t going to be a smooth road for most of us and with a lack of guidance from those insisting we do just that, we could see some fairly detrimental effects to many sites that rely on the revenue that behavioral marketing brings.

It’s unlikely there will be a simple answer to this, and it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing the big bods coming up with the easy solution that we’re all hoping for. It’s time for us all to stop scratching our heads and start coming up with solutions that work for us and our users.

Editor: I’ve spent a fair bit of time talking to people on the topic and in particular the IAB ( You can listen to the IAB Cookie Interview here). Each country in the EU is interpreting the rules differently and the UK government is taking a fairly pragmatic approach. The Dutch have however interpreted it VERy strictly. Bottom line is that as the deadline approaches the potential loss in revenue for the major ecommerce players will lead to legal challenges that will give us some clear guidance and conclusion. Stupid policy with good intentions but not knowledge of the real world.

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