Website operators and ad networks waiting for cookie ‘consent’ developments could be forgiven for having found the experience like waiting for the number 9 bus: You wait for ages and then two come along at once.
First off was the news yesterday that the IAB Europe had adopted a new self-regulatory framework for online behavioural advertising, promoting enhanced user notice and choice through the deployment of an ‘advertising option icon’ alongside targeted ads (see post here: http://privacylawblog.ffw.com/?p=86).
Now, just 24 hours later, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS“) has published its long-awaited proposals (http://goo.gl/Ywn5G) to implement the revised European Electronic Communications Framework in the UK – including the controversial requirement for website operators and ad networks to obtain users’ ‘consent’ to cookies placed on users’ computers or devices.
Browser settings are enough – or are they?
The final DCMS proposals were not unexpected, having largely been proposed already in an earlier consultation document, but this is not to say that they are not significant. Crucially, they lay out the Government’s intention to implement the revised Article 5(3) of the e-Privacy Directive in the UK (that is, the provision calling for cookie ‘consent’) in a way that allows website operators and ad networks to obtain consent through appropriate browser settings. The sigh of relief from business is almost palpable.
Government support for online ad industry self-regulation
So, good news for online business in the UK and it’s a relief to see common-sense prevail. The Government seems to have successfully steered a middle course by, on the one hand, acknowledging that current cookie notice and choice mechanisms need to improve while, on the other hand, proposing sensible solutions that will be welcomed by business.
The question now, of course, is what the rest of Europe will do – whether pan-European pragmatism will prevail or whether more restrictive interpretations by one or two member states could could cause this online house of cards to collapse. We’ll be watching and will post further updates to this blog as and when they happen.