The Federal Trade Commission yesterday announced settlements with two online companies for deceptively collecting personal information from consumers, including its first enforcement action against the use of “Flash cookies” and an enforcement action against a social network that collected children’s information without parental consent. As a result, businesses whose websites (or vendors) utilize Flash cookies, HTML5, or ETags to track user browsing should reexamine their privacy disclosures.
On August 26, 2011 France implemented new EU provisions on data breach notifications for electronic communications providers, as well as new provisions requiring prior consent for cookies. The French measure also gives the government power to order security audits for electronic communications providers.
Hogan Lovells privacy lawyers from five European jurisdictions have published an overview of privacy rules applicable to Internet cookies in Europe . The new rules, which flow from a recent amendment to the European E-Privacy Directive, are not yet settled in all European Member States. This overview provides practical guidance on how to comply with the new prior consent rules that will apply in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Few topics in the world of EU data protection have generated so much debate, and so little understanding, as the change to the law on cookies. On 9 May the UK Information Commissioner issued some guidance on the new law, but anyone expecting clear instructions on how to achieve compliance will be very disappointed.
On December 13, 2010 a Federal District Court in Montana dismissed many of the claims brought against an ISP in connection with the ISP’s use of NebuAd monitoring technology. The court held that users had validly consented to the monitoring technology. The NebuAd case usefully focuses on the issue of user consent, rather than on technological distinctions between ISPs and service providers at the edge.
On 9 November, the European Data Privacy Supervisor (EDPS) issued a press release on the ePrivacy Directive. The EDPS titled its press release as “improvements on security breach, cookies and enforcement, and more to come.”
As reported in the press, “the Council of the European Union has approved new legislation that would require Web users to consent to Internet cookies.” But it is not quite as clear-cut as that quote suggests. The consent requirement relates cookies that collect personal data — an important qualification — and some cookies appear to fall outside of the consent requirement. We detail the fine points of what has happened in this blog entry.