Has the cookie crumbled?

A new directive comes into force from the EU meaning significant changes in the way websites work with cookies. Simon Brew tries to make sense of it all...

Since the advent of the modern day World Wide Web, businesses and websites have become more and more dependant on the cookie.

Most of you will know what this is: the small dose of data a site writes to your computer, to store information about what you've been up to.

In the vast bulk of cases, this is a small amount of data stored on a user's machine, but in others, it's a little more than that, and data has been reportedly shared. A clampdown was, in all reality, inevitable and a clampdown of sorts has now happened.

For there's a significant change to the law that's now come into force, and it's one that many firms may just easily look over. Rather than websites now assuming they have permission to place a tracking cookie on a person's computer, now they effectively have to ask permission to do so.

A clampdown was, in all reality, inevitable

What Benefit?

The benefits to the end user have been outlined by Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner at the Information Commisioner's Office (ICO).

"It will have positive benefits as it will give people more choice and control over what information businesses and other organisations can store on and access from consumers' own computers," he told us back in March.

In short, it means that nobody can store your information in a cookie, without you giving permission for them to do so, and the implicit assumption that it's okay to track what you do will go with it.

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