The European Parliament is to vote Nov. 13 on whether to make cookies illegal. But if cookies -- the small files used as a type of bookmark by Internet browsers to store information about users and a user's Web browsing patterns -- are banned in the European Union, businesses in the U.K. alone stand to lose as much 187 million pounds (AUD$519.00), according to a study published Thursday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau U.K. (IAB).
The ban on cookies is part of a bigger draft legislation package based on a report on data protection drafted by Italian MEP (Member of Parliament) Marco Cappato, which also seeks to deal with unsolicited commercial e-mail, commonly known as spam.
"So-called cookies, spyware, Web bugs, hidden identifiers and other similar devices that enter the users' terminal equipment without their explicit knowledge or explicit consent in order to gain access to information, to store hidden information or to trace the activities of the user may seriously intrude the privacy of these users. The use of such devices should therefore be prohibited unless the explicit, well-informed and freely given consent of the user concerned has been obtained," the draft legislation reads.
Cookies, far from being a violation of privacy, actually protect users by ensuring they are genuine visitors to a site (as opposed to a person from another computer with a stolen password) and are used to legitimately authenticate and speed up a user's identification and e-commerce transactions, the IAB said.