Thursday, 6 September 2012

Cookie Challenge

Back in May, the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) menaced webmasters to enforce an insane European Union Privacy and Communications Directive aimed at blocking tracking cookies. A website must seek a visitor's informed consent to put any cookies on his or her computer. This insanity has done zilch to block tracking cookies and has actually increased the number of cookies put on our computers, because websites now have to record the fact that we've given our consent to install cookies. That of course means a consent cookie in addition to all the other cookies! (CLICK for my first post on this lunacy: Cookies 4U.) Now the software firm Silktide has set up an amusing spoof website starring this Evil Cookie and has challenged the ICO to "send in a team of balaclava-clad ninjas in black hawk helicopters to tickle us to death with feather dusters" (CLICK). Go on, ICO, do your worst.


At 7/9/12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most sites seem to have just lazily sidestepped the regulations by putting up a banner effectively saying "if you don't want us to save cookies - then don't come here".

I spent weeks re-coding my web site so that it remembered user details in Javascript variables - thus valid only for their current session on the site.

The details submission forms each had a "cookie permission" tick box showing the user's current state.

That allowed the user to decide if they wanted to save their submission's data in a cookie for the next time they visited the site on that PC.

The default state was "unticked" - and the user could also revoke their permission at any time by unticking the box.

At 7/9/12, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Oh, well done. You've really got to grips with this cookie issue.

You're right that most websites have just shrugged it off with something like "If you continue to use this site, you'll get cookies"!

Cookies are essential to get the best out of a website. So you can't block them all. I have IE set at one level down from complete blocking. That blocks a lot of useless stuff, but allows the necessary cookies through.

I've found only one website that tells you all the cookies it will put on your computer, from session cookies to ones that last for 2 years: Dulwich Picture Gallery. Visit it and click on "privacy" to see what I mean.

My own website has been offline for ages, thanks to TalkTalk, but I rejected anything on it that had cookies. My Blogger site has Google, Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Blogger cookies. Most are blocked by IE, but some of the little pests follow me around!

If you haven't already done so, do visit the Silktide spoof website I linked to. At the bottom is a comment from ICO, which has the same sense of humour.


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