International: EU Cookie Law and UN Push for Internet Control

Cookie Directive In Force in UK and Much of EU

Last month the UK’s cookie directive went into effect after a year in which the UK postponed enforcement to build awareness.  The law specifically required that a person not store or gain access to information stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user unless (i) he or she is  provided with clear and comprehensive information about the purposes of the storage of, or access to, that information; and (i) has given his or her consent.  Anyone wishing to set cookies must tell people that the cookies are their, explain their use and obtain consent.

  • A user’s informed consent is not required where the cookie is used “for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network”.  In other words, the transmission of the communication must not be possible without the use of the cookie.   A user’s informed consent is not required where the cookie is “strictly necessary in order for the provider of an information society service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user to provide the service”.  There must be a clear link between the strict necessity of the cookie, i.e., that the service would not work without the cookie, and the delivery of the service explicitly requested by the user.  The key is to examine what is strictly necessary from the view of the user, not the service provider.

The EU has asked the European Court of Justice to impose fines on Belgium, Holland, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia for failing to implement the directive, but no action has been taken against the EU’s largest economy – Germany – for failing to implement.  The law is not without its critics and has been quite vocal in its opposition to the law, which it describes as a “kick in the crotch to European business.”

More Info:  See EU Cookie Law Notebook

UN, Developing Countries Seek Greater Control Over Internet

A push by the United Nations and some developing countries to give the UN control over the internet (including taxing authority), has led the “father of the Internet” Vint Cerf to  warn that ‘the open Internet has never been at a higher risk than it is now.”    U.N.’s International Telecommunication Union will be meeting in Dubai in December and some nations may push for the ITU to have a greater role over the internet.  Some countries want greater control over the internet to stifle debate and prevent online activism as has followed Arab spring, while developing countries want to get a larger cut of revenue from internet activities.  The UN has denied any such agenda, but a House Committee is expected to pass a non-binding resolution urging President Obama to oppose any such efforts.

More info: U.N. could tax U.S.-based Web sites, leaked docs show, CNET; U.N. Telecom Agency Denies Internet Takeover Rumors, TalkingPointsMemo; OVERNIGHT TECH: House panel poised to approve resolution against Internet regulation, The Hill.

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