Dutch parliament deals bitter blow to online advertisers, web publishers

New law requires consumer consent for cookies to be placed on PCs

The Dutch parliament has ignored the threats of Netherlands-based web publishers by passing a law Wednesday that requires explicit approval by consumers before "cookies" can be placed on their computers for the benefit of advertisers.

Under the new law, sites must be able to prove that consumers agreed to allow cookies -- tracking code that monitors users' web habits.

The legislation was the subject of furious lobbying by Dutch web publishers and online advertisers, who argued that it goes far beyond a European Union directive approved last November that requires a lesser standard of "informed consent" from consumers before placing cookies on their PCs.

From the Financial Times:

Website developers and online advertisers warn the amendment will create headaches for developers, and could force users to click more pop-up windows while navigating the internet.

And because it will make the Dutch law stricter than those in Britain or France, they say it may lead to Netherlands-based web publishers shifting some operations elsewhere in the European Union.

Another part of the law has the telecom industry up in arms. It essentially would guarantee "net neutrality" by preventing the telcos from charging customers more for using Skype and similar Internet phone services. The Netherlands is the first EU company to make a stand for net neutrality.

Online advertisers say the new law will undermine their business models, which apparently are based on the ability of companies to sneak cookies onto PCs without the knowledge of users.

Those antibusiness Europeans with their socialistic "consumer rights" and transparency!

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