The new EU cookie law appears to have many internet users confused about its purpose and why it exists in the first place. Online privacy has long been a concern amongst general users but the new law now puts them firmly in the driving seat by allowing them tighter control over who can collect, store and use their personal data.
Under the new rules, websites that use certain types of cookies must inform a user what information they want to collect and what they will do with it but they must now get that user’s express permission before they can legally do so.
Much of users’ confusion and indeed fear stems from the fact that the average internet user does not know what cookies are or what they do, but in its simplest form, a cookie is small text file placed on a computer’s hard drive by a web page server to inform the server that a previous visitor has returned to that page. They are also used to enable businesses to track online activity and target their advertising and marketing campaigns more effectively.
With all the horror stories of the past regarding identity theft and misuse of personal data, users’ ignorance of a cookie’s role may lead them to believe they have a more sinister purpose so their fear of supplying information is perhaps understandable.
Most users have little time or patience with pop-ups which often leads to them abandoning a site when one appears and although for the time being at least the pop-up will likely be a necessary evil for businesses and users alike, until users fully understand what cookies do, it is bound to have some kind of impact on genuine visitor numbers.
Until next time.