Gleefully reporting earlier today that "the stupid cookie law is dead at last," Silktide's Oliver Emberton goes on to give us a brief history of the ever-changing and contentiously maligned UK Cookie Law, complete with happy little cartoon diagrams.
For those who have heard the word "cookies" bandied about for years but regard themselves as too confidently tech-savvy to ask, "Wait, do you mean chocolate-chip?", a cookie by the way we mean it here is simply a means for Web sites to monitor who you (the user) are and what you (the user) may want as regards your (automatically deduced from user-ness) preferences for what else you might want. Basically, they're watching you as you watch whatever you're watching on various sites.
The "UK Cookie Law," or the European Union's "e-Privacy Directive," was put into effect in 2002, and revised in 2009. All members of the EU were told to uphold the directive, including (of course) the United Kingdom.
Despite the fact that the UK was not the only member of the EU to fall behind in having their specific steward that oversees such policies - in their case, data protection agency Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) - we should give them some leeway here because, after all, only three nations did comply with the directive's mandated deadline.
The trouble being, as expected, the amount of time it would take for UK (and other nations') larger companies to get down and deep in the depths of the very fundamental workings of their websites to ensure their cookies were in accordance with new directive-directed standards.
Following the rest of the up-and-down, "gee, now what do we tell 'em to do?" rollercoaster the ICO has taken with handling the fact that the UK Cookie Law just hasn't seemed to be viable/practical/implementable, they've basically given up, allowing companies to do what they need to do regards this cookie caper as long as they inform users about the nature of cookies... something Emberton refers to as, "exactly what websites were doing in 2009, except in a bigger font."
Why this all might matter to you who may very well not be in the UK or EU is how these changes and laws may affect your company's Web sites in the future ("When in Rome"... or, in this case, "The EU"...), along with the obvious fact that some of the sites we all use regularly - everything from that of the BBC to PrinceHarryOfWales.org (don't forget the .org there, folks) - are directly affected themselves (or, I suppose, not so much anymore thanks to today's announcement).
For more information about what this all means, you can check out the ICO announcement yourself.
For more information on the best damn chocolate chip cookies, you can check that out right here. Just make sure to save some for me (as long as you tell me everything about it first).