Brussels giveth, Brussels taketh away, to borrow a phrase; just as B2B marketers were cheered by the European Commission’s change of heart in the ePrivacy Directive shake-up, plans to overhaul laws governing cookies have sparked a new warning.
Since 2012, online businesses have been forced to flag up to users what cookies are being placed on their machines, and while many have used static text, the majority still run pop-up windows to seek consent.
The Commission has now proposed simpler rules so Internet users do not have to click on a banner every time they visit a website, a move which Brussels chiefs claim will put consumers more in control of their settings. The proposals follow a campaign, backed by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, to scrap the current system.
Under the new plans, websites could read the cookie preferences set in users’ browsers, similar to those which record browser history or website hits.
However, the digital industry has claimed the changes could have a serious impact on the online advertising market, warning that users may have to set their preferences for every app and on every device they use. Also email services, such as Gmail and Hotmail, would not be able to scan emails to serve targeted ads without users’ explicit permission.
“People who thought cookie banners were annoying, will be disappointed to hear that things won’t get better,” said Townsend Feehan, chief executive of IAB Europe.
Meanwhile, Computer & Communications Industry Association chief James Waterworth added: “The banners are certainly annoying. The question is whether they come up with something that’s better or worse. If this is done wrong and it’s much harder to obtain permission, then it could have a serious impact on ad-funded services.”
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