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Google Breathes New Life Into EU's Cookie Law

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the everyone-must-eat-one-cookie-daily dept.

EU 48

First time accepted submitter Trajan Przybylski writes "Google has just implemented new changes to its search pages in order to comply with the EU's Cookie Law, which aims to improve user privacy. Google is now showing a conspicuous banner with information about its use of cookies to all EU visitors accessing the site. This is despite the legislation attracting strong words of criticism from web developers, who believe the regulation to be harmful to the economy while offering no real improvement to online privacy and security problems. Google's move comes only 3 months after online activists announced the Cookie Law to be "dead" and is likely to reignite the heated debate about the controversial legislation."

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48 comments

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Probably means they can track without cookies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43481545)

Probably means they can track without cookies. You will still be monetized.

Re:Probably means they can track without cookies (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482269)

If it's like every other site affected by this law, they will give you the choice: Accept cookies or get inferior or no access to their services. The current implementation of the cookie law is worse than useless.

Re:Probably means they can track without cookies (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43486219)

I'd say being aware of the issue is a huge part of the battle, most people simply aren't. From there public outcry can reach a level prompting action from the company.

What exactly is wrong with that?

Re:Probably means they can track without cookies (1)

mhsobhani (2688177) | about a year and a half ago | (#43494991)

Probably means they can track without cookies. You will still be monetized.

You use their service and you don't pay for it the conventional way. I think for people like you, there should be a paid version of Google so you pay a monthly fee to use Google services like search or they should have a pay per search query for you.

People Need to Realize (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43481555)

Personal privacy ALWAYS trumps a corporations desire to make money. Companies don't have a RIGHT to make money. They have a RIGHT to try. Profit is not enshrined anywhere and nor should it be. The right of people should always trump those (intentionally minimized) rights of companies.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481591)

Interesting point.
Similar to the pursuit of happiness.

too bad it was posted anonymously.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43481633)

> too bad it was posted anonymously.

What part of privacy did you not understand?

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481843)

Dave is that you?

Re:People Need to Realize (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481897)

Is it interesting? Corporate profits keep shelves jammed with things.

The real evil is the privacy laws doesn't extend to government, which continues to root through things.

Are you in Europe? Ask your grandma. She has experience with governments peeking when they shouldn't, and/or "wonderful" places that outlawed corporate profits.

Re:People Need to Realize (2)

moronoxyd (1000371) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481959)

My grandparents lived through one and my parents and me through the other.

I still prefer living in Europe with it's (mostly) reasonable privacy laws rather then living in the US where corporate interests trump everything, often enough including the law.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482353)

Shit man, you often make some interesting points in this place but your whole "teh gubmint iz ev!l" thing is getting really old.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43486477)

The shelves are jammed with things we don't need.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43481717)

The debate is what constitutes privacy, what level of privacy, under what circumstances can you be seen as voluntarily sacrificing that right, etc.

All you're doing is creating a black and white straw-man to avoid real conversation.

Re:People Need to Realize (2)

Seeteufel (1736784) | about a year and a half ago | (#43483029)

No the debate is whether US corporations understand they have to adhere to our laws and stop the astroturfing bullshit in nations that are not their own. I mean, I don't care if Google corrupts Washington but in Europe I expect them to behave or leave.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#43483927)

And before someone says it they won't leave because Europe is a massive market, bigger than the US. All this bullshit about companies leaving markets is just that - they will comply with the law as long as they can still turn a profit, even if that profit is reduced.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481807)

They have a RIGHT to try.

And that right - which I agree is a perfectly valid right - is exactly why the effect these directives/laws have had are not in line with what was desired.

Basically you've now got a bunch of websites that do one of three things:
A. Show a landing page to any 'new' visitor asking them to agree to placing any and all tracking bits. If the visitor disagrees, they simply will not get to see the site. Period. Fair enough, right? But most people will just shrug it off and accept the tracking because otherwise they'd have to go without the site - and no, 'the free market' doesn't jump in here offering an alternative site of equal desirability but which doesn't use tracking.

B. Show a banner/bar/overlay somewhere on the page telling users the site uses tracking and if they don't like it, they can go away, or just deal with it and the presence of that banner/bar until it is dismissed. Note that at this point, you've already been tracked anyway (which in some countries runs afoul of the implementation, thus seeing variant A more in those countries more often).

C. The site gives the user the option of tracking or no trackings, leaving all other cookies be. Choosing not to get tracked means some content, such as particular ads, won't be shown. On the other hand, other content may be injected that doesn't use tracking but can be annoying in other ways (have to compensate somehow).
This option isn't very popular because it means a very deep overhaul of the website, figuring out what is, or potentially could be, using tracking. That also includes user content and any third party services that may be in use, and figuring out how to do the compensating bit, while accepting that you may still run afoul of the law by some unforeseen vector and if somebody gets smart they could actually hold you liable for it.

So the net effect is that, yes, internet users in the EU are now more aware of tracking features... but only because landing pages and banners piss them off to no end about it, to the point where the vast majority would much rather not have known and just be able to use the sites they've come to know and love, tracking and all.
( conspiracy theorists, have at it. )

Re:People Need to Realize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43482159)

Being a Linux user, I have learned how to do things that are rather nifty:

- Sites "think" I allow cookies, but when in actuality, I write them to /dev/null. This allows me to visit the site thinks it's writing cookies to my machine, and it allows me to maintain my privacy.

- I take advantage of killfiles/blacklist files as well.
- I turn of geolocation to prevent sites from seeing my location (as well as use a http proxy)
- I disable HTTP/S referer so as not to reveal my previous whereabouts so a profile is harder to build
- I disable CSS visited links so sites cannot see any web history
- I disable network prefetch
- I block all social media trackers like FB, Google, etc.
- I disallow ALL forms of metrics gathering

All in all, I experience a very clean internet that I already pay to use via my ISP. I am a customer, not a product. I refuse to allow my web surfing habits to be monetized if I can help it.

I'm under no obligation to receive ads, show you my referer, etc.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

CBravo (35450) | about a year and a half ago | (#43486807)

I would turn off caches as well..

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481863)

Who is arguing otherwise?

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482147)

But isn't banning people from voluntarily selling their privacy a removal of one of their rights?

Re:People Need to Realize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43483693)

Personal privacy ALWAYS trumps a corporations desire to make money. Companies don't have a RIGHT to make money. They have a RIGHT to try. Profit is not enshrined anywhere and nor should it be. The right of people should always trump those (intentionally minimized) rights of companies.

For the product I work with updating our code to be compliant with the cookie law has been a royal PITA. We do not store any sensitive information in any "public" cookies we set, none of the data is persisted for mining purposes later, and all cookies have a maxAge of (-1) so they go byebye when the browser is closed. A Fiddler capture or LiveHttpHeaders can you show you what is stored exactly in plaintext and its fairly boring. Yet we still need to comply with this new law and cripple some of our functionality. Good job EU.

Re:People Need to Realize (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43486239)

and where would you be without the economy? Do you know how to build your own house by chance?

Society is based on compromise, take away the commercial sector's ability to do what it does and you better learn to build that house, might be good for you to do anyways.

Why don't you like cookies (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481577)

Just block them. Also, use birds and symphonic cow bellowings to access your internet, and you will be safe from Farcebook and Slashdort spying on you and your family and your house and/or apartment or other domicile.

Blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43481627)

Forget Cookies, what is that monstrosity of a Microsoft ad at the top of the page that keeps growing and shrinking? Hideous. Do they really think this helps them sell stuff?

Re:Blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43481729)

What ad? Oh, you don't block sites through your hosts file... I see...

Re:Blah (1)

pahles (701275) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482013)

Have you ever heard of ad blockers?

Cookie law sucks (3, Insightful)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481711)

I used to browse with cookies being cleared at the end of the session. Now, whenever I go to a website, I have to put up with a banner or screen filling notice telling me that this website uses cookies and to click here to accept or reject.

This happens every time I go to the website and is incredibly annoying. How do I get it to go away? I have to accept the website's cookies.

Oh, the irony.

Re:Cookie law sucks (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481769)

I like the banner. It lets me know that my browser is successfully clearing cookies at the end of the session. It's the same situation with Ghostery; If I see blocked trackers, I think "Awesome. Working as intended!" If the little icon has no number next to it, though, I start thinking that something isn't working right.

Re:Cookie law sucks (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482211)

If only someone could craete a way to block banners. oh well I guess you life is hell becasue you see a banner ad.

Re:Cookie law sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43485797)

Good try. There is a difference between an advert and a legally required message that a web site puts up.
The differences is not just legal. It isn't just practical either. Adblock plus blocks the former but it leaves the latter untouched.
I suppose that's intentional, although there is a technical difference as well: ads usually are served from ad networks whereas these messages normally are an intrinsic part of the page. This makes them different, if not necessarily harder to target.

Re:Cookie law sucks (1)

Jaseoldboss (650728) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482429)

That's what I do and I'm not about to change, no matter how irritating it is. This law actually actually reduces the level of privacy by making the most private settings unusable.

Re:Cookie law sucks (2)

Blue Stone (582566) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482883)

I just treat those EU cookie bullshit banners like annoying advertising and Adblock the fuckers.

Because that's all they are - spam advertising that's saying "Hey, cookies exist and get used, this has been a public service advertisement by your clueless overly-bureaucratic government organisation in Europe. We're here to help. Pray that we don't help you even more."

They're as annoying as pop-ups and scroll-overs. Some are ignorable and all are useless. And they actually encourage the tracking of people (assuming adblock etc isn't used) because the *easiest* way you get rid of them is to NOT clear your cookies. Not clearing means you don't see them every time you visit the website. Clearing them means they are there every time you visit in a new session.

Ridiculous and worse than useless.

Re:Cookie law sucks (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#43484037)

It's not the EU's fault, it is the web designer's fault. Rather that putting up an annoying banner they could display the message in a less irritating way. The industry could even get together and agree a "this site uses cookies" symbol they could put somewhere visible but not irritating, similar to warning triangles or safety certification marks.

Re:Cookie law sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43486017)

Yeah, I've seen a few websites with EU cookie notices. None of them have been in any way annoying or gotten in the way (and I block cookies on most websites). I have to assume the web designers are intentionally making it annoying to not accept cookies because---surprise---they want you to accept cookies.

Re:Cookie law sucks (2)

MacDork (560499) | about a year and a half ago | (#43483001)

You could stop going. The law exempts session cookies. The site is telling you they are dropping tracking cookies on you on behalf of advertisers. Clearing your cookies when you close the browser doesn't help in this case. While you may continue, others who care about their privacy are hitting the back button.

Re:Cookie law sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43484611)

Install Firefox, then install the Remove It Permanently extension, then right-click the annoying banner and remove it permanently.

Re:Cookie law sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43516051)

You make a good point and it would be nice to have an HTTP header that notifies the server we know about various laws so the web developers only include warnings when they're needed.

X-Known-Legal-Bullshit: cookies, fbi-fake-ssl-certificates, sopa

Article Author Eats Babies (2)

wynterwynd (265580) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481791)

Anonymous sources claim that "Misleading titles in articles lead skimmers to wrong conclusions, which unnamed experts say can be as damaging to society in some ridiculously extreme cases as eating a baby."

Seriously though, let me get this straight: Google is "breathing new life" into the bill all on its own by complying with the law?

Oh noes! I just breathed new life into all these traffic laws by stopping at red lights this morning! And I think I singlehandedly resurrected the anti-murder laws by not killing anyone today!! Also I threw my support wholeheartedly behind the Patriot Act when I submitted to a random FBI spidering by typing this sentence!!! Exclamation points!!!!

Can we please all just take a deep breath before we come up with these article titles - if I wanted radical sensationalism, I'd be reading the mass media news feeds.

Re:Article Author Eats Babies (1)

Shimbo (100005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482819)

Yes, the whole 'if we ignore the law, it will go away thing' was a bit stupid. The ICO may have more important things to deal with than every mop-and-pop website that uses cookies not complying on day 1. However, the UK is not Europe and just because the UK regulator isn't particularly keen on enforcement, it doesn't mean that it won't be enforced it other countries. And if you are Google, you have competitors queuing up to make complaints.

Re:Article Author Eats Babies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43483077)

Fantastic! Well done above.

slashdot cookie GOOD... google cookie BAAD... (1)

BACbKA (534028) | about a year and a half ago | (#43481827)

Those folks slamming personalised web services for the potentially intrusive BI, are you comfortable with the slashdot cookies? :-) I've been using /. in AC mode mostly, for the last several years, because of the privacy concerns. "Anonymous coward" and proud of it...

Re:slashdot cookie GOOD... google cookie BAAD... (1)

kestasjk (933987) | about a year and a half ago | (#43492175)

"Anonymous coward" and proud of it...

Don't give a damn, and indifferent about it...

then use google.com (1)

pahles (701275) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482057)

I'm in the Netherlands but always use google.com. I don't see a banner. If I go to google.nl I see the banner, although it is not as conspicuous as the OP makes us believe. Anyway, I'm sticking with google.com!

Rewrite the cookies with random data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43482067)

I clear out my cookies at the end of each session, use different browsers for different things (from different machines), and also like to have a little service running which monitors cookie directories and randomly rewites the values in the files (I switch this on before surfing and switch it off after surfing)

riiight... (4, Insightful)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year and a half ago | (#43482745)

" the regulation to be harmful to the economy while offering no real improvement to online privacy and security problems"

Riiight this has zero benefit because, why? Because an informed person is a bad consumer , decision maker and general PITA ... to corporations...

Re:riiight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43484017)

It has zero benefit because it makes every website based in the EU fucking annoying. It has zero benefit because browsers can be configured to reject cookies in the first place. It has zero benefit because the EU is not intellectually equipped to legislate on technical matters.

Re:riiight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43484045)

Isn't this legislation entirely about protecting uninformed people from things they don't understand? IIRC it only exists because the people the law protects don't understand what a cookie is or how to configure a web browser properly.

cookie law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43486211)

The cookie law is now dead

Does that mean they can now be baked with marijuana?

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