FROM May 26 this year, you need to be very careful about giving me a cookie. It will be against the law and you could be fined £500,000. Unless I've explicitly told you that: "Yes, I want a cookie."
This isn’t some radical NHS programme to help me lose weight. The cookies in this case are snippets of code rather than tasty snacks.
Websites pop cookies on to your machine for all sorts of reasons: to keep track of who you are, to count how many people have been there, and to maintain your shopping cart. They’re pretty fundamental to how the web works, and by and large they are no bad thing.
However, some people are uncomfortable with the web’s big trade-off: your attention in return for free stuff. Capturing information about you and giving it to advertisers is how large parts of the web are paid for: Facebook, YouTube, Google etc.
So what to do? You could remove all cookies from your website. But then you’ll never know whether there were two people on your site or two million. Rubbish.
Instead you could get yourself a cookie manager, which allows visitors to choose whether or not to let you give them cookies. The good ones also keep a record of everyone who has said “yes” should you be audited.
But how will you behave as a consumer when asked: “Do you accept cookies from this site?”
Think carefully. Imagine a shop where the assistants turn their back when you walk in. That’s a web without cookies. Imagine paying for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, online news and more. That’s a web without cookies. Life is much better with cookies in it. So on May 26, say “yes” to cookies.
:: Tom Cheesewright, is the co-founder and CMO of prospect analytics software company CANDDi