Business given new taste of cookies

Guest post from Intel IT Galaxy blog

Cookies. We all use them every day. Or should that be - we are all used by them every day? Those tiny programs that run in our browser and do everything from set our preferences for different websites, as well as help track our movement across the web have been as useful as they are controversial.

And as of today new EU cookie laws, known as the Privacy and Communications Directive comes into force. It essentially means that a user's consent must be sought from a website before using cookies. For many firms this is a technical hurdle to overcome - a business cost, but perhaps no more.

But in the field of behavioural advertising, a burgeoning industry for advertisers, it's more thorny. Advertisers increasingly rely on being able to track online behaviour via cookies. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has said that the new law  "is potentially detrimental to consumers, business and the UK digital  economy".

The concern is that annoying popups on websites notifying consumers of the existence of cookies, with an option to decline their use, will make the web surfing experience a poor one, and potentially harm e-commerce.

But privacy advocates believe more transparency is needed for web surfers - who often aren't aware of the implications of simply visiting a site.

In the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office has said businesses will have an extra year to get ready and find a workable solution - a relief for many.

To date, only two EU countries have agreed to comply fully with the law - Estonia and Denmark.  Four countries, including the UK, have agreed to partially adhere but that still leaves 21 countries silent on the matter.

You can read the full EU regulations here. The Information Commissioner's Office has more information also.