There is a lot of debate going on about the new EU law regarding cookies; how they are used and when they need explicit consent from the end user to be used. Some people claim that sites will be cluttered with warnings and popup windows and therefore will give an advantage to competitors in non EU locations. It is my belief that this is a common misconception and misinterpretation of this new directive.
Reading the directive (located here) it states the following on page 75:
“Member States shall ensure that the storing of information, or the gaining of access to information already stored, in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is only allowed on condition that the subscriber or user concerned has given his or her consent, having been provided with clear and comprehensive information, in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC…”
This actually states that the end user must give his or her consent before information is stored on the computer, phone or other devices. But it continues with this interesting part:
“This shall not prevent any technical storage or access for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network, or as strictly necessary in order for the provider of an information society service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user to provide the service.”
I am sure this will have a lot of interpretations, but for most websites cookies are used mainly to keep track of user sessions allowing people to login to it. For this purpose cookies are fine to use, since it is “strictly necessary” for the website to function.