European Union approves new Web cookie directive
The European Union recently made strides to toughen regulations dealing with the storage and use of web cookies. By updating a directive aimed at online privacy, the European Council approved new requirements that websites obtain a users consent before placing a cookie on their computer.
The directive now moves to the EU’s Member States that must pass laws enforcing the directive by April 2011. While the opt-in directive is a significant policy change, the legislative history associated with the directive notes that browser settings are an acceptable means to gain consent. Still, the challenge moving forward is that language found in the legislative history is not a requirement for adoption by Member States. As a result, we'll likely see a varied interpretation across European countries. Several are likely to require websites to obtain express consent from a user while others will only require consent through browser settings. Further, countries will need to consider whether default browser settings are an acceptable means to comply with the law.