The EU Cookie Law (4/2013)

Since its adoption on November 25th, 2009, directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council – often called the Cookie Law – has stirred intense discussions in the Member States of the European Union. From the European Parliament’s point of view the directive serves to protect the privacy of internet users. Publishers are required to provide comprehensive information about the cookies to their sites visitors. The storage and processing of data is only allowed if visitors agree to it – this is called informed consent. The directive obliges Member States to implement the obligations into national law until November 25th, 2011. While some states already transposed the directive into national law, other states have not. The German government for example has remained largely inactive and stated that the self-regulation approached by the advertising industry should be awaited before discussing further measures. However, after the deadline for transposition of the directive has passed in May 2011, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI), Peter Schaar, announced that the directive is now directly applicable. Since Schaar’s statement the discussion in Germany has rekindled.

metapeople discusses the core provisions of the directive. The terms of article 5 (3) of the directive are imposing new constraints for the storage of information in the World Wide Web. However it also provides considerable latitude for the implementation of the directive into national law. This has lead to a variety of different measures taken by the EU-member states, which metapeople will summarize in this overview. Particular attention is given to the developments in Great Britain and the Netherlands. The British government has implemented the directive in May 2011 and announced that the developed solution will provide a point of orientation for other EU-Member States. In the Netherlands the self-regulation measures of the advertising industry are discussed in view of the developments in Germany.