Confusion at the Commission

By: Richard Beaumont | Tuesday, August 2, 2011 | Tagged: ICO | Leave Comment

The European Commission continues to put out conflicting messages about the cookie law, frustrating everybody who is looking for clear answers.

This week has seen the publication of a written response to a parliamentary question put forward by Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld (@SophieintVeld).

Ms In 't Veld posed a series of questions which seem clearly intended to highlight discrepencies of opinion across the European Commission about the cookie law and appropriate responses to it, as well as perhaps to try to get clarification on areas of conflict between the wording of the EU Directive, and statements made by leading figures.

In four related questions she highlighted the fact that whilst the EU Directive provides an 'opt-in' approach to cookie consent, Commissioner Neelie Kroes has publicly supported the self-regulation stance taken by advertisers, as well as the US-led 'Do Not Track' initiative, both of which are based on an 'opt-out' model.

The full text of her question can be found here.  The full written answer is available here as a Word document (this link will download it).

The main thrust of the reply was that the EU Directive is indeed opt-in, that the Commission support the efforts of the online advertising industry at self regulation, and that EU member states are being called on to ensure the Directive is brought fully into national laws.

None of which really clears anything up for anybody, and just goes to show the enduring capacity bureaucratic organisations have for doublethink.  No change there then.

However, there is one tantalising glimpse of a future where clarity will be achieved.  In one part of the response they allude to a review of the opt-out model adopted by the advertisers towards the end of this year, and 'further discussion with stakeholders' in 2012.

This is still pretty fudged however, given that earlier this week, as we have already covered, the Article29 Working Party gave a much clearer statement of their opinion on the IAB/EASA opt-out.

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