The European Commission seems determined to save us from evil advertising companies that monitor our every movement using cookies.
The EC is very upset about how websites track visitors and tailor ads to their behaviour and from May 25 all sites must have “explicit consent” from web users before they are tracked and hunted through the internet like attractive teen victims in a Friday 13th movie.
At the moment advertising businesses are wondering what is the best way they can get users to be daft enough to sign their souls away on an online consent form. One advertiser suggested to us that meeting users at a crossroads and offering to make them the best blues players in the world has not been ruled out. Another agency suggested crying might be an effective tool.
Having a box pop up which says “Would you like to have sex with Scarlett Johansson?” in large print, and allow us to use your personal data in small print is bound to be tried somewhere.
But the advertisers and the websites will have to have something sorted out by the time the European e-Privacy directive comes into force in the UK in late May.
There is still going to be a huge problem in policing the directive. It equally does not mean that users will be free of the terrors of cookies.
While it looks like internet sites in Europe will be forced to adopt the policy, as normal the US is lagging a long way behind.
US politicians stand up to advertisers and big business in the same way that American forces stood up to the British in the Battle of Bladensburg in 1812.
Thus it means that all the European information will just flood across the Atlantic where it will be unprotected and can be used as the advertisers want.
Obviously the EU will object to this and eventually the US will be forced to listen. The EU will be helped, no doubt, by the growing anti-advertising movement within the US. Already browsers from Microsoft and Mozilla will give users an opt out from cookies.
But with no direct legislation from the US, advertisers will be inspired to work out ways around the software so that they can keep monitoring users until they die.