Sunday, 24 June 2012

On The Futility Of Cookie Consents

It's a month or so since the Cookie Law took effect and already it's an exercise in futility. I haven't clicked on a single cookie consent, yet I know my browser and hard drive are lousy with the things - both the helpful kind that improve my experience of using the web site I'm visiting, and the small proportion that feed information about me to third party advertisers.

There are two reasons for not clicking on cookie consents. 

Firstly, I don't reserve a single minute in my day for reading cookie consents. Life is short. Every second spent not reading cookie consents is a priceless investment in something potentially productive. Sleeping is a better use of time. Not reading cookie consents is in the same category as never watching American celebrity murder trials, or Big Brother or X Factor. Or... well, you get the picture. Reading cookie consents is a true waste of time.

Secondly, the Cookie Law is a one-size-fits-all requirement for user consent before setting all types of cookie - both those that will help you retweet this post and immediately return to read more, as well as those that will lead someone to conclude you have a passion biscuit recipes after you've read this post. I have no problem at all with the first kind, and it seems overkill to ask me to opt-in or out to them being set. I can clear them if I want to. And making me click "I accept" for all types of cookies doesn't even scratch the surface of the very specific, difficult challenges posed by the second kind of cookie: how and why the data about my movements is going to be shared with advertisers, and ensuring it is in fact used appropriately. Those challenges need the pragmatic, holistic attention of a WEF 'tiger team', not the overly zealous intervention of Eurocrats using data protection law as a means of delivering the single market fantasy.

Image from Jefferson Park.

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