New European Internet Rules Focus on Cookies

LONDON — New European Internet rules may soon be changing the way website operators track visitors and tailor ads to their specific behaviors.

The new European rules, which are set to take effect in late May, dictate that explicit consent must be gathered from web users who are being tracked via cookies. Businesses are being urged to sort out how they get consent so they can continue using cookies.

The new rules dealing with cookies are part of the European e-Privacy directive created in an attempt to protect privacy and limit how much use can be made of behavioral advertising.

The directive demands that users be fully informed about the information being stored in cookies and told why they see particular adverts.

The rules will more likely have an impact on the general use of cookies that remember login details and enable people to speed up their use of sites they visit regularly.

It could also mean that users see many more pop-up windows and dialogue boxes asking them to let sites gather data.

Early work by the Information Commissioner’s office suggests that gathering consent by changing settings on browsers may not be sophisticated enough for the demands of the directive.

The exact steps that businesses have to go through to comply with the law and gain consent from customers and users are being drawn up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.