Meanwhile well-meaning service providers break the law without even realising it. The ICO’s own video to publicise the change has less than 10,000 views, while over 175,000 new .uk sites were registered in May alone. Providers simply aren’t aware that the technology they put in place to improve their products is making them criminals.
In practice, the law means only that users will be faced with constant interruption. Once the user has been asked for permission for a specific cookie for a specific site a hundred times, it seems unlikely that they would continue to read about what each cookie does. Eventually only the illusion of security is provided, breeding complacency.
Cookies have been around almost as long as the internet has been commercially available, and for those that are concerned about them, there are already a plethora of techniques to avoid them such as browsers and scripts. These are one-button fixes as opposed to a heavy-handed law, which requires updates on upwards of half a billion web pages.
While this will have little impact on large businesses, which can move their servers out of the EU and avoid the process entirely, this will be a blight on smaller providers of web content. It is these small providers that have made the internet so interesting. Traditional publishing has long been dominated by a much smaller group of voices, and the internet has gone a long way to increasing pluralism. The EU Cookie Directive puts that at risk, while only providing a façade of security.