05 August 2015

EU cookie law is stupid

This post was going to be about something else entirely. But as I went to create a new post, I received notification that Blogger was inserting a notification on my blog (a.k.a. annoying the 3 people that read my blog) for compliance with the EU cookie law. Needless to say, this made me angry. Let me give you four reasons why this is stupid.

Nobody reads the notifications

The notifications are intended to notify you of what information of yours is kept in cookies. But history, UX research, and common sense has shown that users click through messages without reading them. They just want to read their content, and they don't care about the notice. Even if they tried to read the details, they written are by/for lawyers. So ultimately, the notifications are annoying and stupid. I can't wait until I find a plugin that blocks them. Currently, I just block them manually whenever I see one on a site.

The law doesn't protect you

The law purportedly gives the users a choice. But, are you really going to refuse FaceBook's cookies and thus not be able to use their website? I didn't think so. You will take their cookies and like it because you want to use their website. It doesn't require sites to stop using the cookies in undesirable ways. The site gets to have its way with your cookies, and if you don't like it your option is to hit the road.

No law can protect you

A serial killer obviously knows murder is illegal, but it still doesn't stop them. The law only serves as an after-the-fact counter-balance to the problem. Likewise, illicit sites don't care about the law anyway. They aren't going to care about displaying a notice. (If they did, it would probably just be a trick to get you to click to install malware so they could outright steal your personal information.) These laws only cause a burden on legitimate site operators and site users (whose browsing experience is interrupted by an asinine notice). Even legit websites can decide one day that they want to abuse your information (use it legally but unethically). Popular example: a megacorp buys an established community website so they can trade its credibility for short-term profit.

You are the only one who can protect you

Ultimately, you are the only one with the power to protect yourself. Will you wield that power? There are a myriad of plugins which block intrusions into your privacy. Start with an ad blocker, because the abuse targeted (and missed completely) by this law -- abusing your information for profit -- is the foundation of current internet ads. After the ad blocker, check out Disconnect.me, Ghostery, and so forth. (Hint: google privacy browser plugins)

Government Protip: You know nothing about the internet. Stop making laws for it.
Citizen Protip: You know everything about the internet. Stop allowing stupid laws to be made for it.

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