Cookies! Do you approve?

TL/WR; Asking permission to “put” a cookie on your computer is something we have to do now by law, but it makes no sense.. and this is why:

The OZNB Foundation was founded in the Netherlands. Which means, we are still in the “clear” regarding the new European law for the “approve my cookie before you go any further” notification to whom might visit our website.

Yet, we do ask you to allow us to “put” a cookie on your computer as soon as you visit this website. And it’s not because we can, it’s because we like to offer you all the features of this website.. and not just some, but all. I will attempt to explain how ridiculous this whole “Will you allow us some diskspace for a cookie to make this site work?” in practice is by explaining the simple basics of a browser, the webserver and thus the http protocol. I will NOT go in depth on how to build a website, the mechanics, and all the rules and regulation. It’s just rough outline of what happens.

 

The browser (Chrome, Firefox, IE (if you must), Opera (it works)) is an application that does a whole lot of this;

GET / HTTP/1.0
User-Agent: Handwritten/1.0

Now, when you right click on this page, you click “view page source” or “inspect element” or anything else that will show you the contents of this website in code, you will see a whole lot of instructions for your browser. Those instructions are written in HTML, javascript, css and other doodles that might be useful for the browser.

Those instructions can be categorized in two segments; fetch and display instructions.

The fetch arguments are references to images, stylesheets, text files or even whole pages from a different webpage hosted on a different server across the pacific ocean, and any of those links/referrals will result in the browser sending more of the same requests like;


GET /images/front-page-logo.gif
GET /css/style-sheet-global.css
User-Agent: Handwritten/1.2-extra query

Every single file that needs to be displayed needs to be fetched by the browser, by sending “GET” requests to the webserver. There is still a lot more going on, but this is the gist of what the browser has to do before it can perform it’s second and final trick.

Displaying the website!

By clicking that link that pointed to this article (http://oznb.org/cookies/), you requested the download of the whole page including all the css files and images to visualize what we have created. You downloaded a copy of our website! What you see, in your browser, is a copy of OUR website! We offered the content to be downloaded from our webserver to your computer so you can read all about the OZNB Foundation. And we gave you permission to do so. So, why do we have to ask permission so you could download another file again?

To prevent this article becoming as long as the Eiffel tower is high I will end with a couple conclusions;

  • we offer you a cookie to download so we can offer you the chance to log in, respond, write your own articles and change your profile, yet we have to ask your approval again to do so?
  • A cookie is a tool, like a knife, that can be used for good and evil. But by letting the knife ask you permission to be used is backwards.
  • The amount of problems it will produce regarding embedding images (like advertisements-banners or referral tools) from companies who offer that service for a nominal fee will be required to ask you for the same approval.. pop-ups everywhere, every single time you click on any page for the first time.
  • And what if you refuse? I could force you to visit any site I could.. I could force you to visit something which is illegal by law. Remember: it is not illegal to link to something which is illegal, unless you download it yourself. Ooh dear..
  • etc.

I dramatized the majority of the points into extremes. But idiotic laws require extreme idiotic examples.

[1]http://silktide.com/cookielaw # the law explained in human readable form.
[2] http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-eu-s-legal-war-on-web-cookies  # a petition against cookies
[3]http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/privacy_and_electronic_communications/the_guide/cookies.aspx # more detailed information about how this might work (or not)
[4]http://www.cookiecentral.com/ccstory/cc3.htm # panic mode regarding cookies.. all the evil stuff that might happen (or has happened a long time ago).

One of OZNB’s users has sent us a link to a page called “cookie-control”. Check it out if you don’t want to design your own cookie warning script!

http://civicuk.com/cookie-law/cookie_configuration_v5
Stichting OZNB’s opinion on this subject is a biased opinion.

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