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EU Cookie Legislation, official ocProducts response - Comments

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EU Cookie Legislation, official ocProducts response

Posted 16 May 2011, 10:53 PM

I am writing this news post as Managing Director of ocProducts, on behalf of all ocPortal users who are in the EU, or interact with EU citizens as a part of their business.

European citizens may be aware of there being an EU directive on electronic privacy, and that national governments in the EU are enacting this directive in national legislation.

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Non-EU domiciled individuals/companies

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I'm assuming that this legislation does not apply to websites not domiciled in the EU as they would be outside of the legal jurisdictional of the EU.

While ocPortal may be developed in the EU, not all web sites using ocPortal are domiciled there.

Have you considered how the changes you are making to ocPortal are going to affect non-EU domiciled sites?

Elements of bullet point 1 & 4 could potentially be a real irritation to users not based in the EU, after all you are wasting their time by "forcing" it upon them, yet the reason for the "forcing" does not even apply to them because they are not subject to EU law.

All intrusive measure should be configurable (from your post it does not sound as though they all will be). If they are not then you may potentially endanger the use or growth of ocPortal outside the EU.

I am not passing judgement on the privacy merits of any of the changes, just that you I don't believe you should be forcing EU law related changes upon non-EU websites.

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There are international treaties between countries that allow one country to exercise legal control of agents in another if those agents are flagrantly violating laws when acting in their own country. E.g. if a US company advertises to UK consumers for a website that does not comply with the law.
That's what I understand anyway, international law is a pretty complex area. But realistically I doubt that would ever become an issue.

'1' is an option, and '4' is done with great subtlety. We definitely aren't creating raw "can we save a cookie" popups. For example, when the WYSIWYG editor is closed we now ask whether to save the setting and mention almost in passing that it would use a cookie. That's actually a nice little feature improvement, as it gives the user a choice of just disabling for now or keeping it disabled more permanently. For example, the chat room lobby now contains an additional paragraph in it's template that mentions that use of the chat room implies agreement to the rules and privacy policy – again, a nice little feature regardless of the cookie law.

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Chris Graham said

There are international treaties between countries that allow one country to exercise legal control of agents in another if those agents are flagrantly violating laws when acting in their own country. E.g. if a US company advertises to UK consumers for a website that does not comply with the law. That's what I understand anyway, international law is a pretty complex area. But realistically I doubt that would ever become an issue.
Actually I was referring to the situation where an ocPortal installation in say Australia is serving visitors from Australia, U.S. and EU. If there are changes that could be considered by some as intrusive/a nuisance/resrticting functionality, they should not automatically be forced onto visitors from non-EU countries.

Chris Graham said

'1' is an option, and '4' is done with great subtlety. We definitely aren't creating raw "can we save a cookie" popups.
Its the "or integrated into a natural Javascript popup" part of bullet 4 that has me a little worried. I don't want a situation where users experience multiple popups while exploring the site.

Chris Graham said

For example, when the WYSIWYG editor is closed we now ask whether to save the setting and mention almost in passing that it would use a cookie. That's actually a nice little feature improvement, as it gives the user a choice of just disabling for now or keeping it disabled more permanently.
To me, depending on exactly how it works, it could easily be an irritant. And if I do 'deem' it an irritant, can I disable it for no-EU visitors?

Chris Graham said

For example, the chat room lobby now contains an additional paragraph in it's template that mentions that use of the chat room implies agreement to the rules and privacy policy – again, a nice little feature regardless of the cookie law.
This sound fine, does not sound intrusive at all.

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Actually I was referring to the situation where an ocPortal installation in say Australia is serving visitors from Australia, U.S. and EU. If there are changes that could be considered by some as intrusive/a nuisance/resrticting functionality, they should not automatically be forced onto visitors from non-EU countries.

Impractical I'm afraid, there is no way to detect if someone is in the EU as geolocation in general is very inaccurate, and it would be a big ongoing investment for us to fund the development even of an approximation.

or integrated into a natural Javascript popup

By "natural" I am referring to it being tied into a reasonable feature, rather than the technology involved.

To me, depending on exactly how it works, it could easily be an irritant.

For the WYSIWYG question:
It only happens once, subsequent toggling of the WYSIWYG editor won't ask if you say you do want to save the setting. If you say you don't want to save the setting it will ask each time, but this is a feature that wasn't possible before so there's no degradation to speak of.

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At first, I would say that this has no implication to my site since it, me, and 98% of my current memberbase is squarely situated within the US.

However, I do have a member (staff member in fact) that is from the Netherlands (a EU country), and several members who are just so to  visit on occasion for reading and what not, from ocportal.com, who's location is not known to me. And then there's the daily influx of visiting guests that could be from any country….

Being an individual, it is hard to say how hard people like Interpol and sch would come after me to make sure the EU rule is in effect for my website for visitors from there. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of the law, or to limit /prevent friends from EU from being able to make use of my site…

This is why this is disturbing to me. Such a rule I haven't even heard of until today coming on this site…. I have to wonder, how many other countless sites across the globe are going to feel the impact of this, regardless of where they are hosted and what software they are using, and probably never having even heard of this ruling….

*sigh* this is why net neutrality is so important. The internet is transnational….. it is basically impossible to assume that every site is going to be able to adjust to the rules of one country of governing body.

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I really wouldn't worry mythus. I'm being careful not to give out legal advice here, but it seems very unlikely to me that anyone would even think twice about a non-commercial site outside the EU with regard to this.

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As Chris says mythus, don't worry about it. I'm from Australia and expect users from all around the world, and I am not 'worrying' about it in the slightest.

The only reason I am making an 'issue' of it here is to gently remind Chris that ocPortal is used all over the world, and that should a change have to be made to ocPortal that has a negative impact on user experience then that should be configurable, as much as possible, so that we don't have to pass on that negative user experience to the rest of the non-EU world.

There are too many online users to list.
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