NEWS11 October 2010

IAB Europe warns against ‘illegal’ cookie respawning

Data analytics Europe

BELGIUM— Online advertising trade group IAB Europe has warned business off cookie ‘respawning’ – a practice it describes as “illegal” as it allows publishers and advertisers to continue tracking web users’ online behaviour against their wishes.

Respawning garnered attention last year when a group of academics published a paper showing how Flash technology could be used to recreate cookies after they had been deleted by users.

IAB Europe vice president Kimon Zorbas said: “Companies must respect users’ choices… The reputational damage of respawning to our industry is clear and we will act clearly and decisively when any such cases are brought to our attention.”

The trade body joins Flash developer Adobe in condemning the practice, while web analytics expert Eric Peterson warned companies that the use of cookie respawning was “asking for trouble”.

In the US two companies have already been sued over their alleged use of respawning.

Meanwhile in Europe, cookies are a hot topic in regulatory circles. A package of telecoms reforms from the European Union includes amended rules on the use of the technology, stating that consent must be given before companies are allowed to place cookies on a web user’s computer or retrieve cookie information already stored there.

The wording of the article is vague enough to have led various parties to interpret this as requiring an individual’s consent every time a cookie is used, while others, including IAB Europe, are of the view that “the control settings in a web browser such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera or Safari are sufficient to comply with the consent requirement in the legislation”.


1 Comment

14 years ago

At last this is being taken seriously...I have been banging my tiny drum about the misuse of Flash's Shared Objects for more than a year on this. However your article does suggest the IAB are contradicting themselves i.e. if they are against re-spawning cookies, then they cannot also state “the control settings in a web browser ... are sufficient to comply with the consent requirement in the legislation”. Flash cookies are not controlled by the user's browser. They are controlled by Adobe and the vast majority of even savvy users are unaware of this. Best regards, Brian Clifton Author, Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics

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