In France and Germany, none of the top websites were complying. (Note that “compliance” means an onscreen pop-up, banner or tab telling users about cookies that are used on the website.)
This doesn’t surprise me. The directive was always a toothless piece of legislation and badly executed. While the intentions of it were admirable (to make people more aware of their privacy online, how their information is used and to stop websites that abuse user information), putting the onus on website owners was always going to be unrealistic and destined to fail. Given the volume of websites that exist in Europe, it is impossible to enforce.
Everyone is already bored and frustrated by cookie compliance messages. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. We all get the message now. As it falls to individual websites, the EU have successfully created apathy rather than engagement for the directive. This is a shame as there was an opportunity to educate users about how their information is tracked online.
A better approach would have been to:
- Seek co-operation from the major browser developers (i.e. Google, Mozilla, Microsoft) on how browsers could encourage and promote sensible cookie management
- Provide cookie management information for every new purchase of an internet-enabled device (we would probably get bored of this too but not as much as seeing it on every single website)
It will be interesting to see in the coming months if any prosecutions are made. If it does happen, it is likely to be highly contentious as it will be singling out one website above myriad others who are not complying. A sad and likely end to this directive is that it will slowly fade away and become a distant memory in the minds of website owners and agencies.