The draft Communications Data Protection Directive is going to be big news for marketers however it turns out, and the see-sawing continues with EU telecoms Ministers now having had their pennyworth on cookies. So will it or won’t it be a ban?
Who: Council of EU Telecoms Ministers
When: December 2001
The draft Communications Data Protection Directive reached the next stage of its passage through the EU legislative process with consideration by all EU telecommunications ministers. On arrival in front of the ministers, the draft contained a ban on cookies unless, immediately on coming to a site, individuals were given full details of what activating the cookie entailed and then opted in to the cookie going to work. To the delight of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (“IAB”), amongst others in the marketing industry, telecoms ministers felt this was too restrictive. The amended provision that now goes forward to the adoption of a “Common Position” stage before the final reading before Euro MPs, is opt-out, not opt-in based. The new suggested requirement is that cookies are allowed on condition that the subscriber or user receives, in advance of the cookie being activated, clear and comprehensive information, about, amongst other things, the purposes of the cookie. The subscriber/user must also be given the right to opt-out of the cookie being used. If the opt-out box is not ticked, the cookie can then operate.
Why this matters:
The Directive is not finalised yet, but major changes get less likely the further down the legislative track the draft progresses. As the IAB has commented, the new suggested requirements are unclear as to precisely what information must be provided before the opt-out opportunity is given. However, the IAB is optimistic that the rule’s spirit can be satisfied and is working to develop practical self regulation. This will enable users to opt out of accepting cookies , but not so that site owners will need to make prohibitively costly alterations to their sites.