Cookies, as I'm sure you are aware, are little files that websites use to store information on your computer. Of itself a website has no memory. A cookie lets it keep a note of some information and come back to it next time you visit the site - essential, for example, if you want it to remember what you've put in a shopping basket. The EU has decided, in its overpaid wisdom, that sites using cookies should be forced to ask visitors whether they want cookies to be used.
But isn't this stupid?
Time to panic!
|No, no cookies here|
Luckily there is a way to find out. Fire up Firefox (if you don't use this browser it's free to download) and visit here to get the 'view cookies' add-in. Take a look at your web pages and when you are on a page, in Firefox select Tools > Page Info. Click on the 'Cookies' tab and it will tell you if your page has any cookies in it.
One place you will always find them is any site that remembers your login information - so if your bank, for instance, hasn't checked if you want cookies, technically they are breaking the law since last Saturday. Naughty banks.
|A randomly selected bank breaking the law|
What was the outcome?
I was, on the whole, clean. The WordPress login page has one, but unless you make users login, this doesn't apply to them. The only place I did have them was where I'm selling things: as soon as you use, say, a Paypal shopping cart you are loading on the cookies.
Does this mean I had to provide an opt-out?
Luckily, no. There is an exception to the need to offer opt-out if the cookies are being used for an essential function like a shopping cart. I am gradually adding a privacy statement to sites that do this, making the situation clear, but there should be no breach of the law.
So if you have websites, no need to panic, but for peace of mind it might be worth checking what's going on in those pages. Oh, and to think once again, do we really need to be part of the EU?
Image from Wikipedia