Don’t get eaten by the cookie monster

English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

It’s now cool (and lazy) to associate the new legislation with these types of pictures) English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate chip smiley face (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a kid, I always loved the cookie monster. So simple, yet so…sloppy. I would make a cheesy analogy about life, but then I’d lose a measure of respect for myself. So where is this post going again?

Ah yes…there is a relatively new piece of legislation that has gone into effect throughout Europe that requires ‘informed consent’ when websites track individuals’ online activities. I won’t go into the details here, but use Google and/or some of the links that WordPress is kind enough to provide me if you are interested in reading further.

You absolutely must love regulation…otherwise you would cry. Now, I am often reminded of my purely capitalistic tendencies, and have softened them a significant amount over the last five years or so as a result. However, I still have my moments when I let out a resigned chuckle at our futile attempts to rationally plan a complex thing like an economy. See Irene Ng’s blog post on what I mean by complex.

It’s natural…I just can’t help it.

Here is my test for legislation/regulation. Does it actually change stuff, and if so what might the consequences be? Or does it ensure that the lipstick is properly applied to a certain stocky four-legged animal?

Let’s take smoking. Most of us have been battered – and rightfully so – with anti-smoking messages since we were children. However, if we think of the return on investment of anti-smoking education, it is miniscule in comparison to the effect of banning smoking inside public areas such as bars and pubs.

Telling people to do stuff is very inefficient and often completely ineffective. Informing people that cookies are tracking them…well, I think you know where this is going.

Just about every website in the world uses cookies in one way or another. If you use Google analytics or any other way of knowing who visits, how often, and which pages are most popular, you use cookies. If you book flights or trains, buy goods online at, or do practically anything, you will have been ensnared by those little snippets of code.

The legislation recognizes this reality and does not attempt to outlaw cookies, but aims at letting people know when they are being tracked.

So the thought that you are in control of this stuff may make you feel better, but that’s just your mind doing its job.


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