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"legal" category

Doubleclick double-take

5th July 2012
Categories: cookies, legal

To explain the first part of the title, doubleclick are one of the notorious advertising companies supplying so-called "3rd party cookies" to track your likes and dislikes across the internet, saving your information across multiple websites (those websites, of course, who use their syndicated ads). 

By saying "notorious" I have of course prejudiced the conversation, but if they can prove otherwise I'd be happy to retract.

Now to explain the double take..

I bought a laptop today from a well-known UK retailer. A few hours later I was sent (by a friend) an unrelated article hosted on a well known UK newspaper website. Hitting the article, I had to do a double take, because my laptop was being advertised in a prominent banner.

On refreshing the page, my laptop again... nothing else, no ads for probiotic yoghurt or online degrees, just the exact laptop I'd just bought.

"What's the problem?" I hear you ask; "isn't this convenient for you?".

Apart from the fact that the ad server wasn't clever enough to know I'd actually bought the laptop and probably didn't need two of them, these are the kinds of ads which brought about the cookie law which we all hate.  These are the people for whom the law is actually created.  The law is only for the bad guys.

The fact that the cookie law was introduced to curb these people is bad enough, but the fact that they're getting away with it while us law-abiding citizens are having to ask users for permission to store cookies is also a pain.

Why are their activities bad?  Here's a small example: suppose you have legitimately been using your work laptop to look for things you'd rather your boss knew nothing about (like a new job). Then when your boss is in the room, job ads display on every website you visit... it doesn't make for a happy boss. Or suppose you didn't want to tell your parents you were pregnant yet, but baby clothes and pregnancy test ads are displaying when you're doing homework in the lounge..

Do I care enough to report the Guardian website to the information commissioner? Probably not, but undoubtedly they will have to change their policy soon..

twitter to selectively censor tweets

27th January 2012

In a new blog post on the twitter website entitled "Tweets must still flow" (a misquote from Frank Herbert's Dune), twitter announced yesterday that if in one country the authorities request that a tweet be withdrawn for legal reasons, twitter now has the ability to pull that particular tweet in the country where it is banned, without affecting the worldwide view of it.

Inevitably, some people will be up in arms about this move, but in a world where countries impose different laws on their citizens, maybe it makes sense.  Is it better to censor an illegal tweet (for example, one claiming the Holocaust never happened, in Germany) than have the German authorities shutting down twitter and throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Online directories forced to remove dodgy advertisers

1st December 2011
Categories: legal

As the BBC reports, a judge in Nevada, USA, has ordered various online directories including Google, Bing, Yahoo and Facebook to remove links to sites offering counterfeit goods for sale.

As legislators try to get to grips with controlling the internet, what does it mean, and is it good or bad?

Earlier this year the European Union ruled that websites within its jurisdiction should gain explicit consent from users before storing 'tracking' cookies on users' browsers.

Google is today hitting back with print advertising explaining just what a cookie is and why it's so useful - there's an ad above my head on the train as I blog, saying "Hello David, What's your name again" as an illustration of the fact that without cookies, websites can have very short memories.

I have not met anyone yet who agrees with the EU cookie legislation. So in my view it's very misguided. But does that make internet legislation bad?

In all walks of life there may be good and bad legislation, and if legislation exists to prevent street traders from selling fake Rolexes on Oxford's cornmarket, why can't the law rule on internet trading?

Opposers of this kind of legislation cite the fact that in order to make it work, you have to legislate in all jurisdictions - but does that matter? Surely that is not the point of the law. However nice it would be if it was applied globally, laws must be passed if there is a strong case.

What do you think?

EU cookie directive madness

9th May 2011
Categories: cookies, legal

In recent newsletters to our customers we highlighted the European directive coming into force which will unfortunately impose changes on all of our customer websites.

The directive will make it mandatory to inform users about the purpose of any cookies stored on their computers and allow them to refuse the storage of cookies.

Cookies allow users to login, buy products, and carry out other activities on websites, so this unfortunate ruling will affect the majority of dynamic websites on the internet, and every website owner will need to decide how to react.

There are many options to consider, and they will depend on your website set-up.

There is some related guidance from the Information Commissioner's office, here, which we summarise below:

  • you will need a user's explicit consent if you want to store a cookie on their device.
  • there are a number of ways of gaining this consent, but it cannot be buried in a terms and conditions link.
  • The only exception to this rule is if what you are doing is 'strictly necessary' for a service requested by the user, for example they are adding something to a basket.
  • The first step to complying with this directive is to examine your website thoroughly for cookie usage.

Ecommerce websites will still need to be examined in order to eliminate or receive permission for cookie usage before the basket stage.

We are charging a flat-rate fee of £75+VAT to investigate each website, whether it is a ten-page site or a multi-community ecommerce site. The report will list all of the types of cookies saved by the website, and recommended actions.   

The cost of carrying out changes will depend on the report. In some cases it will be negligible; in others it may be significant.

Please request this report from us by emailing Work will be carried out on a first-come first-served basis.

If you have any questions please contact support at the above email address.

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