EU countries ignore new law on Internet privacy

Most member states fail to take any action on the new anti-cookie directive

New European Union rules to ensure privacy have been ignored by the vast majority of E.U. member countries, according to Jonathan Todd, European Commission spokesman for Digital Agenda.

Only Denmark, Estonia and the U.K. have so far notified measures to implement the revisions to the ePrivacy Directive, Todd said on Wednesday.

The new law, which aims to give Internet users more information about the data stored about them, was supposed to be implemented by all E.U. countries by May 25. However it is not clear whether even the three countries that have taken measures are fully compliant with the law, leading to speculation that better protection of personal data online for customers is far from a priority.

Member states have had two years to implement the revised rules against tracking cookies. Under the new law, before being asked for their consent, users must be given information on the use of the collected data. The so-called "Cookies Directive" requires companies to obtain "explicit consent" from Web users before storing cookies.

Cookies are small pieces of software that are installed on the user's computer to remember log-in details and other preferences relating to a particular website. But they can be used to target advertising based on browsing history. The only exception to the cookie rule is when they are necessary for a service requested by the user, for example, when a user clicks "add to basket" button to buy goods from a website.

The slow implementation of this directive highlights the difficulty of framing legislation to protect consumer privacy. What "consent" to cookies requires in practice is not defined in detail in the directive, and some counties are hoping that, in principle, a browser set to "accept cookies" implies consent.

However, even U.K. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham acknowledges that his office's guidelines are "a work in progress." But he warned that browser settings alone may not be enough for compliance with the directive.

"The circumstances in which such settings can be considered appropriate for expressing the user's consent depends on how well they meet the general requirements in the legislation," said European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

The European Commission, the E.U.'s executive body, will consider opening infringement procedures against the 24 member states that have failed to transpose the directive into national law, said Todd.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitylegalgovernmentinternetprivacy

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?