SEM Industry - News and ViewsOn May 25th, a new EU policy directive is due to be introduced which could chaos for websites, advertisers and consumers. In trying to prevent behaviour tracking (and possible privacy invasion) through cookies, headers and the like, the EU is insisting that ‘explicit consent’ must be gained for any tracking of personal info.

What this seems to ignore is that cookies are used for far more than behavioural tracking. Cookies are also used to make log-ins to often visited websites a doddle. If websites and businesses have to gain explicit consent for each visitor who visits a site, then consumers are going to be faced with a plethora of pop-up boxes requesting such consent, and lengthy explanations as to what information will be gathered, how, why, etc.

Whilst the FTC is also looking at solutions to protect privacy, EU sites are going to have to solve this problem in short order, whilst even the DCMS admits it has not even drawn up the guidelines yet.

Internet marketers and site owners know that each request for information causes a percentage drop in conversions and clicks. This directive could potentially drive customers and audience to visit sites outside the EU which do not request consent just to remember a simple cookie-based log-in combo.

Browsers already offer plug-ins and extensions to protect users privacy, as well as software being available to escape targeted advertising cookies and headers, such as Noscript, Beeftaco, AdBlockPlus.

This may yet prove to be a policy directive that has been produced as a knee jerk reaction to a problem that does not exist, because of the criticism levelled at the likes of Phorm. More importantly though seems to be the fact that very few people within the industry appeared to notice the public consultation which took place regarding this new directive, which took place last autumn.

How is your business planning to deal with the directive? Let us know your thoughts.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology