UK hesitantly supports EU cookie-block

The UK’s government has said that it will be endorsing a European Union directive, which looks at making websites ask permission before storing cookies on a user’s computer.

Ed Vaizey has said that the EU Electronic Communications Framework will bring the UK’s regulatory framework up to date – and claimed that it would ensure a level playing field across Europe.

He also said that the government will not ‘gold-plate’ the regulations by adding any additional measures.

But compared to the original framework, some developers have misgivings. One explained: “Basically, the EU directive requires businesses that use cookies to obtain “explicit consent” from visitors to their sites.”

Cookies are generally used for unpleasantness like behavioural tracking across multiple sites, but are also used to remember if you’re logged in to a particular site or to maintain preferences.. “They’re served from every single ad serving system on the planet,” he added.

The main problem is that the rules will come into force before the ICO will even issue guidelines. This means that websites probably won’t face any action if they fail to comply.

Another problem is the government’s suggestion that it’s “questionable” if they’d be able to implement it simply through browser changes – meaning each individual website would have to adapt.

In a statement, Vaizey said the internet “would be severely restricted without cookies and concerns were raised during the consultation that changes to the use of cookies could have serious impacts on the web.”

To address these concerns, the government says it will work with browser manufacturers to see if browser settings can be enhanced to meet the requirements of the revised directive.  

Because of the delay with the ICO, the department has also said a second working group would be formed it could communicate with “industry players about how they can complement delayed guidance.”

Mr Vaizey added: “We recognise that work on the technical solutions for cookie use will not be complete by the implementation deadline. It will take time for meaningful solutions to be developed, evaluated and rolled out. Therefore we do not expect the ICO to take enforcement action in the short term against businesses and organisations as they work out how to address their use of cookies.” Solutions, solutions, solutions.