What if you had to receive consent to place a cookie on a user’s computer? As an online publisher or digital marketer, you might find it very difficult to operate.

But that’s exactly what an amendment that will be voted on in the EU Parliament considers requiring.

Needless to say, the proposed amendment that would require cookie consent is meeting fierce opposition from online interests such as the IAB.

The vice president of IAB Europe, Kimon Zorbas, noted that privacy policies already required by law in the EU provide disclosures about cookies and tracking and he argues that “This amendment, if adopted, risks changing the way the Internet works today“.

I’d agree. As Zorbas also mentions, users already have the ability to manage privacy settings and deny cookies through existing technology. Trying to fix something that isn’t broken in an unfeasible manner, jeopardizing the user experience in the process, is ill-conceived. Many commonly-used applications employ cookies for a variety of techniques that are completely innocuous. From blogging platforms to shopping carts, I’m not sure the EU Parliament recognizes how much consent their proposed rule would require.

What’s interesting to me is that the EU Parliament would seriously consider such a law following the implementation of the email and browsing history retention rules that just went into effect. These require ISPs to store basic details about their customers’ email communications and browsing history.

All in the name of security, of course. The irony is that this law potentially creates even more security risks for consumers. As Neil Cook of message security firm Cloudmark pointed out, “Considering the sheer volume of high-profile security breaches hitting the
headlines in the UK, the protection and storage of data is of paramount
importance to an organisation
“.

If all this seems absurd to you, it seems absurd to me. Hopefully this proposed amendment will not pass and we can move on with a real discussion about consumer privacy on the internet with realistic policy suggestions.

Photo credit: alex.ch via Flickr.