ISBA's Twinn calls for clarity on EU cookie restrictions
Speaking to Research from Paris last week, ISBA’s director of public affairs Ian Twinn said he was seeking a clearer definition of the requirement that companies receive user consent before they are allowed to place a cookie on an individual’s computer.
“The commonsense point of view is that if you set your browser to accept cookies and when you do that a message came up setting out the consequences, that would be prior consent and that would be an opt-in to accept cookies,” said Twinn. “That would be fine. But you could equally interpret [the proposed rule change] to say that there has to be prior consent for every occasion, and that would be ludicrous.”
Restrictions on cookie use form part of the EU’s Telecoms Package – a set of directives which will regulate certain aspects of online privacy and data protection, among other things.
An amendment to article 5 (3) of the 2002 European Communities Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications states, in part, that “member states shall ensure that the storing of information, or the gaining of access to information already stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is only allowed on condition that the subscriber or user concerned has given his/her consent”.
“Privacy is quite a big issue now in Europe,” said Twinn. “Quire reasonably, both the commission officials and the politicians and the member state governments are beginning to get concerned about the amount of privacy information which can be misused so they are thinking of tightening the rules.
“Certainly, there had been warnings from before the European elections that opt-in looked more and more likely and that’s the way people were going – but we need to get a definition, then, of what ‘opt-in’ means.”
As for the marketing industry’s course of action, Twinn said: “Our best bet is to talk to member state governments and the European Commission to explain to them – well I think they know really – but to reinforce the fact that if you are too restrictive about needing prior consent to place a cookie then the world that we have got used to on the internet won’t look the same. It will be very laborious.”