Will The New EU Privacy Laws Stop the Web from Being free?

Just a thought really. Having some discussions with some smart people at the eMetrics summit and it seems the UK are going slap £50K fines on companies that don’t follow the new rules laid down by the ICO (based on the EU directive). So if they truly do this for even the 1st party cookie does it mean the impending death of online advertising in Europe?

If online advertising is forced out of business the only way for content providers and media site owners to stay in business is to charge for content. Maybe the journalists that are jumping on the “cookies are evil” bandwagon should ask people if they would prefer to pay for content than have cookies in their browsers.

Like I said, just a thought.

Steve is a well known analytics specialist, author and speaker. A pioneer since 2002, he established one of the first European web analytics consultancies (Aboavista), later acquired by Satama (now Trainers’ House) in 2006. In 2008 he wrote his first book Cult Of Analytics published on May 14th 2009. He currently serves as CEO at Quru and has presented and keynoted web analytics topics across Europe. These include The Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm), The Search Engine strategies (Stockholm), IIH (Copenhagen), the IAB Finland (Helsinki), Media Plaza (Amsterdam), Design For Conversion (Amsterdam) The eMetrics Summit (London, Munich, Stockholm), Divia (Helsinki) in addition to sitting on dozens of panels.

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4 comments on “Will The New EU Privacy Laws Stop the Web from Being free?
  1. Janne Korpi says:

    Another road is that the websites provide content only for those who consent to being tracked – which could result in a) tracking only the ‘faithful visitors’, thereby making it more difficult for the websites to understand how to provide better content for non-faithful visitors, and/or b) causing the browsers in general accepting tracking of any sorts (also malicious one) with a lot more flippancy and in any case c) severely hampering usability of the website.

  2. The really really bad thing about the cookie law being enforced all over Europe is, that the Advertising systems the law is trying to regulate, can use other technologies than cookies (browser fingerprinting fx.).

    But the web analytics world, which relies heavily on cookies, will be hit HARD by this!

  3. I do agree that first party cookies should be left as-is, as they are also a valid method used by most CMSs to transport session information, so where is the limit? Should tracking info be combined to this sort of cookies?

    If you are going to ask “How are you going to handle this?” from your vendor, I don’t think any of the replies at the moment would suffice. I’m not a big fan of cookie based tracking myself, but for other reasons than this kind of nonsense. I do enjoy a challenge, but I prefer ones that are meaningful.

    My personal take on this is that this law is made by people who do not comprehend it nor the technology, to people who have no understanding what it actually means to be “tracked”. Web-Analytics isn’t a synonym no Homeland Security.

  4. Vicky Brock says:

    We are, as you know, in agreement on this. But not only is it the advertising driven sites that will no longer be free to all, public sector information driven sites – which exist to democratize access to information via the most cost effective channel – will no longer be able to fulfil the remit they are obliged to deliver under the EU e-governence and e-accessibility directive. These nonsensical interpretations at national level will be preventing government & other public sector sites from delivering the quality of user experience and transalation/accessibility levels that pre-existing EU directives have already put in place.

    Daft doesn’t start to cover it!

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