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Every website I visit now seems to display a warning such as "We use cookies to improve your experience. By your continued use of this site you accept such use. To change your settings please see our policy." (this one is taken from ubuntu.com). Usually wiht an "x" button that will disable the message (using cookies).

From a user's viewpoint does the user need to be aware of the user of cookies? Almost every website uses cookies and it's a new distracting element taking space and attention away.

What has happened recently that seems to have started such trend?

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Also see ux.stackexchange.com/q/7318/10431 which discusses how to deal with it gracefully. –  Ulrich Schwarz Jun 9 '13 at 7:21
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This isn't a trend as much a legal compliance. There is close to unanimous agreement that it's silly, but a few politicians think that it's better to annoy everyone on every site than it is to ask a few paranoid people to change their browser settings. –  JohnGB Jun 9 '13 at 12:54
    
@JohnGB, Although silly, this is probably the only way to increase people's awareness to cookies, so they can become paranoid and shut them from their browser. Otherwise, 90% of web surfers remain in their ignorance, and they can't make a sound and rational choice (as if...). –  Dvir Adler Jun 9 '13 at 13:13
    
@DvirAdler That is already in most sites TOS. If we need to explicitly warn about every part of the TOS, we will hurt UX even more and simply push people towards sites in countries that don't do that. –  JohnGB Jun 9 '13 at 13:21
    
I decided to not bother complying. If they want to sue me, they can feel free. But the fact is, cookies aren't innately bad, it depends what you're doing with them. I can't be bothered writing extra stuff just to annoy people with a stupid pointless message. As Ben Brocka said, by having cookies enabled, that's you giving your consent. –  David Robilliard Feb 10 at 14:47

2 Answers 2

up vote 17 down vote accepted

There was a new cookies law passed last year in the EU that required websites to inform users if they place cookies. More info here

http://www.netmagazine.com/features/beginners-guide-new-cookie-law

From a UX perspective it's obviously a negative thing and is just an onerous legal obligation people have to comply by. You do it if you have to and don't do it if you don't.

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The "implicit consent" thing has pretty much rendered the whole thing pointless anyway: theregister.co.uk/2013/02/01/ico_cookie_policy_change. Using the internet with cookies enabled is more or less your implicit consent. –  Ben Brocka Jun 9 '13 at 16:58

In a related point, there is a law in effect here in the US that affect most websites. I'm working on updating content on several large websites for this change.

The California Internet Privacy Bill. Our legal counsel has boiled it down to the following points.

If any consumers of your web service are located in the state of California, you must:

  • Explain "how you deal with" do-not-track requests.
  • Make that information available in a conspicuous way from your homepage. (A text link to a privacy policy will do the trick)

Now, this doesn't mean you have to "do" anything about do-not-track requests, you just have to explain how you deal with them. That could be statement along the lines of "We take do-not-track requests and promptly ignore them" - but if you want to be compliant, you need to say something somewhere and link to it.

All that said, how the state of California plans to take action against the the millions of non-compliant site owners is another question. Presumably, you're going to have to be a pretty big fish, and be flagrantly non-compliant, to get any heat on this. (note: this is not intended to be legal advice : )

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