IPA says 'cookie' data ruling will hit e-trade

Members of the European Parliament have voted this week to adopt an

amendment to the draft directive on electronic data collection and

privacy to restrict the use of "cookies" - data tags on PCs that hold

user information on specific websites. The decision could have a

severely detrimental effect on European e-commerce.

The restrictions proposed would mean that users would have to give

"prior explicit consent" for the use of cookies on a site - in short, to

"opt in". The rule has been likened to asking people to fill in a form

every time they enter a shop.

The Internet Advertising Bureau will now be relying on the European

Commission and on national experts in the Council Working Group to

overturn this amendment before the draft directive goes before the

European Parliament for a second reading.

"Cookies" are also a user-friendly internet tool used by the content,

media, advertising and e-commerce industry to authenticate users and

speed-up and simplify use of the internet.

Alan McCulloch, the chairman of the IPA Digital Marketing Group, said:

"We are disappointed that the DTI, in particular Douglas Alexander, the

minister for e-commerce and competitiveness, has failed to influence

this legislation and has failed to protect UK business."

- Spotlight, p15.