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FreePint BlogCookies law already crumbling

Wednesday, 27th June 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Joanna Ptolomey


The LiveWire has been following the countdown and the introduction of the new EU cookie over this last month or so. The questions now are so what and any impacts so far?


The LiveWire has been following the countdown and the introduction of the new EU cookie over this last month or so. The questions now are so what and any impacts so far?

The main concern just around implementation time, at the end of May, was the last minute changes around implied consent. Not surprisingly the commercial sector is rather put out by last minute changes after a year of countdown.

A recent Techradar article reveals that some businesses are rather more serious in their dislike of the new law. It seems that educating the public about cookies is like expecting microwave oven consumers to understand quantum mechanics. Perhaps stretching the argument a little too far here, but it does seem to be affecting some usability and analytics aspects of websites.

The loss of website traffic analytical data does seem to be a prime concern. Customer experience on a website is more than just a little useful. Where a customer comes from, the search terms used, and navigation around the website all feeds into website improvements and on-going design. In all cookies help provide better user experience.

Much of the chat around the cookie law has indicated that the lawyers are the big winners in this legislation. The law still seems confusing to the public and businesses alike.

In my own work, I am constantly aware of the cookie pop up messages. I find them irritating to my web experiences, constantly having to read or close pop up screens or message bars. Could it indeed be making websites harder to use and in some cases causing inequalities for ease of use for some people?

From a usability aspect a piece of legislation designed to keep the public safe could actually be hindering their experience in usage.

Implied consent, usually with a link to cookies policy, comes with other issues. Though easier on the eye in terms of usability of a web page it is difficult to draw the conclusion that consent has actually been given.

Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets present another problem. Pop up boxes can be difficult to read and if the default setting is set to opt-in then has consent really been given?

From my own user experiences this last couple of weeks I have encountered a multitude of approaches to cookie compliance. However there does not seem to be one common approach. As an information professional if I find the cookie law messages somewhat confusing and the implementation (in terms of my user experience) patchy and sometimes poor.

I think this cookie is starting to crumble.                


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Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

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