‘Zombie cookies’ face clampdown

brusselsBrussels chiefs have launched an attack on so-called “zombie cookies”, calling on the advertising industry to stop supporting consumer tracking techniques which are virtually impossible to delete.
The move reinforces fears that the digital advertising industry is continually working on ways to circumvent legislation, rather than working with the authorities to reach a solution on privacy concerns.
Web user privacy is one of the most controversial issues facing both legislators and brand owners alike, even though most Web browsers – including Microsoft Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla – are introducing ‘do not track’ features.
The European Network & Information Security Agency is calling on the industry to explain what it is doing and make it easier to delete unwanted advertising cookies.
The group wants the industry to move towards informed consent, so Web users can either manage or remove cookies as they see fit. It also wants cookies to be stored within browser control.
Cookies were initially used to manage browser-server interaction but are increasing used for profiling and tracking. It is claimed that most of the developments have been driven by the advertising industry.
“Zombie cookies” are formed when users try to delete their browsing history only for the cookies to come back to life in a different folder on their computer – normally within their Adobe Flash player. Often the only way to delete these cookies is to delete the Adobe program.
Professor Udo Helmbrecht, executive director of ENISA, said: “Much work is needed to make these next-generation cookies as transparent and user-controlled as regular cookies, so as to safeguard the privacy and security aspects of consumers and business alike.”
The EU has put forward a directive that partly covers the use of cookies and set a timetable for this to be incorporated into the national law of Member States by May 25. The rules emphasise the need for clear consent from a user, underpinned by clear up-front explanations, before cookies are installed on a user’s machine.

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