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Implied consent

This blog is a web site, within the meaning of the EU cookie law. And it uses cookies. As such, it is governed by regulations set forth by the Information Commissioner's Office.

What cookies do we use at Charlie's Diary, and why?

Well, if you're a moderator or a guest blogger, you will need to log in to exercise your special privileges, and the site will use a cookie to keep track of you and grant you 'leet access.

If you're a commenter and you log in, then the site will use a cookie to identify you ... except logging in is currently broken, so you can't do that. Ahem. It will also plant a cookie on you if you try to preview a comment before you hit the post button.

As far as I can remember, that's all. I am certainly not using cookies to gather information about your browing habits or to push advertisements at you. (If you have reason to think you picked up a tracking cookie here, please contact me: it may mean the site's been hacked.)

Implied consent: if you use this blog and attempt to post comments, or are an active moderator or guest blogger, you are presumed to have given consent to the use of cookies for those purposes (and only those).

This has been a public service announcement made necessary by some damn' fool European Commission directive that confused a goal (securing web users' privacy) with a technology (cookies). Film at eleven.

We now return you to your usual viewing.

59 Comments

1:

A vast non issue to 99.99% of Net users

2:

Nevertheless I believe in staying within the law by making this sort of policy explicit.

If I change my mind and decide to harvest all your browsing habits in order to sell them to the highest bidder, I'll tell you up-front, okay?

3:

Ahh, nothing like tech law and policy made by people whose entire understanding of the technology in question comes from having been briefed on how it worked a year or two ago by an aide who doesn't have a clear understanding of it either. Always produces such charming results.

4:

Huh. I...actually appreciate this. It maps to what I assumed was the case, but I quite like having it made explicit, briefly and in passing, and wish more sites did so. I guess that makes me one of the uninformed idiots.

5:

Do you prefer that a government make a somewhat dumb regulation, or that it completely ignore it in favour of letting the market decide? Does your answer change based on the field?

I'm generally curious, because I don't know my own answer here.

(That assumes this is a "somewhat dumb" regulation, not a "mind-boggingly stupid and dangerous" regulation, of course.)

6:

The problem is how many regulations that at first glance seem "somewhat dumb" turn out to be "mind-bogglingly stupid and dangerous," particularly when statutes displaying poor understanding of the concept are then broadly interpreted by judges with even poorer understanding (a little bit of a common-law-centric concern, but as a US law student it's hard not to be so-focused) -- in the states, see for example the question of using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to transmute contract law into criminal liability as regards terms of service violations...

7:

(Though to be fair that seems to have been found on appeal to have been an over-broad application, at least as far as the Lori Drew case went...)

8:

This is a "somewhat dumb" regulation, in that it specifies a technology (cookies) and imposes requirements on their use (consent by website users) rather than addressing the real issue (privacy of website users and freedom from unnecessary monitoring). The real bad guys will now be looking for a work-around that doesn't rely on cookies and is therefore outside the scope of this regulation.

Ditto requirements for catalytic converters on automobiles, rather than restrictions on engine emissions (leaving the field open to the industry to decide whether to use cat converters or an entirely different technology -- lean burn engines, for example).

9:

Gentlemen's agreements trump laws only when all involved are gentlemen. As long as enough people are participating in something, someone will want to start screwing over someone else. Better to have stupid laws then, in my opinion.

We are lucky that our host here is gracious, but society at large cannot rely on luck alone to function. Note that stupid laws are not dangerous laws – dangerous laws are stupid laws that have high compliance and/or modification costs.

10:

Not always the case, though -- a stupid law that the out-of-touch legislators/regulators/judges think addresses an important problem can be worse than no law at all, because it hinders development of good law, at least until it's been given enough time to clearly fail. For the reasons mentioned by Charlie above, I think this falls right in that category -- the lawmakers responsible for this cookie regulation are busy congratulating themselves while good guys are inconvenienced and bad guys find another way to pull off exactly the same bad behavior...

11:

It's a rather toothless law that can be sidestepped by placing a notice that you're going to do so.

12:

Weren't you just bemoaning in the previous thread that conversations tend to get unnecessarily-frequently side-tracked onto the topic of (e.g.) Automotive technology?

13:

I think most people can recognize a difference between hijacking to another topic and reasoning by analogy...

14:

The EU directive (and its UK implementation) allows for cookies used for technical purpose, making this blog post an unnecessary knee-jerk reaction, right? It's a smart directive written by smart people, though ICO handled it badly.

15:

So how exactly is it going to be enforced, given that the worst sites for abuse of privacy are not within EU jurisdiction?

16:

I think there is a burden of proof argument in favour of the explicit regulation though - since legitimate uses of cookies now have to be flagged to users and consent obtained, it becomes much easier to argue a civil case that non-explained and non-consented personal tracking across websites is a breach of privacy and/or of data protection rights...

17:

https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~sps32/sec_news.html#Assurance - American crypto chip manufactured in China found to contain a key that allows for arbitrary software upgrades even if locked with the user key.

Is anybody suprised? Is there anything we can do here in the uk?

18:

And if we take gas powered autos to colonies on other planets will they have Cat converters?

19:

Only if they're libertarians.

20:

Sean E F @ 5
Circumstances alter Cases
In other words, One size does NOT filt all - there are times when appropriate regulation is needed, and times where it isn't.

aexpc @ 9
No: any stupid law is dangerous.
It will at the least penalise someone who is doing no harm.

Generally, this is a real reason why the EU has turned into a really bad idea.
Substances used for many years by gardeners have been banned, because they have not been submitted for "Safety tests" which cost $BIGNUM, and which costs can only be met by $BIG_AGRO_CHEMICAL ...
Who therefore drop easy-to use things like Sodium Chlorate, and simple fungicides...
So they can rip us off with their expensive substitutes.
And this is applying across all fields, as far as I can tell.

Never mind the [Currently only a presentation paper/proposal] for a EU-wide electronic COMPULSORY ID "Card" which just about anyone can use to track every movement you make, every purchase requiring ID you make, every bank transaction ....

21:

There is an "or other tracking technology" line in the Act, IIRC, so the spirit of the law is at least minimally available in the letter...

22:

"or other tracking technology"

hmm. I'd love to see a case where expert witnesses dispute whether a human brain counts as a computing device, and on that basis, bans bartenders from asking "Same Again?"

23:

"Substances used for many years by gardeners" includes such delightful chemicals as pure nicotine and paraquat. Tradition does not equal either safety or morality, and I can quite happily get along without drowning on dry land as my lungs scar over, thanks. (Incidentally, the widespread, minimally controlled use of broad-spectrum pesticides or fungicides is a crap idea for the same reason as uncontrolled use of antibiotics: evolution is real.)

24:

To be honest, I appreciate the statement.

Okay, I have TACO installed on Firefox, so if I want to find out which cookies are active when I view this site, all I have to do is click. But it's still good to have a notice of what to expect here - for example, I now know (rather than just suspecting) that if I wind up with a tracking cookie attempting to log what I'm doing here, then the site has been hacked by malicious types (I've also got various things set up so most tracking cookies are blocked).

This doesn't mean having the information isn't a good thing in and of itself. If being pleased about having a statement that OGH is one of the good guys who isn't interested in selling (oh, sorry, "monetizing") everything he comes across whether it's his to sell or not puts me in some "elitist" 0.01%, as Dirk suggests in the first comment, then hey, I'm an elitist. Sometimes that's a good thing, too. I'm something of a privacy extremist - I think my data is mine, first and foremost, and if someone's going to be selling it, it should be me.

(There's also a lot of background feminist theory going on there as well... let's just say the analogy which springs to mind when it comes to data tracking, aggregation and sales tends to be that of pimping and prostitution. I object to someone else deciding without my consent that I'm just a bundle of things to be sold, and it hits at a pretty visceral level since I'm of the gender identity which is still widely considered to be just another thing to sell).

25:

Related: Colombian coca farmers have bred a Roundup resistant plant. One hears tales of horizontal gene transfers and crop-weed hybrids, too, as well as the pure chance mutants.

26:

Thank you Charlie for making the policy clear in simple terms. That was way more betterer than a nine-page TOS-EULAryThing.

If you wanna see dumb law made by even dumber people voted in by people for whom the title "stupid" is in all-too-many cases literally true, my country is the current world champion. I give you: Jonathon Young, MP.

http://www.3news.co.nz/Govts-Skynet-legislation-becomes-law/tabid/412/articleID/206882/Default.aspx

Don't even start me on our Minister of Communications, who is possibly even worse. http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/6843660/Minister-holds-off-on-digital-price-probe I note (with an extra-pained grimace) comment #20

27:

I guess they have all the bananas curved consistently.

28:

To be fair the EU regs on bananas and cucumbers are a bit more sane than they're portrayed. They're regs on particular grades of produce.

No-one forbids people to sell too straight bananas or too curvy cucumbers so long as they're not marked as Class A or whatever, they're just different standards to help consumers choose which grade of fruit they want. A bit like the classes of eggs.

I haven't read this directive on cookies, but my instinct is that it's a good idea. The reason I think so is the marketing industry is raging hard about it. While this isn't a perfect guide, I find it quite indicative.

29:

Agricultural (and gardening) pesticides: the commenters above have it about right. I don't think Sodium Chlorate has vanished because of the pesticide rules. It is the weedkiller that can be used for making explosives. But its qualities as an oxidizing agent may well make it awkwardly indiscriminate in its effects while in the soil.

One of the key parts of modern pesticide testing is the residues in the plant at harvest. Even chemicals which are hazardous as concentrate are diluted for application, and then break down in the plant and in the general environment. So, if you follow the instructions, the residue at harvest is at homeopathic levels.

I did my training on pesticide application a quarter-century ago, and there have been changes in the detail since. The rules said "light-coloured" overalls, so that splashes of concentrate are visible. At the time, a lot of people thought that meant the white disposable overalls, and thought it would frighten onlookers. It wasn't the rules that put farmers in white overalls. It's just that it was the easy option.

One of the problems with the EU system is that the EU makes "directives", which have to be implemented as law by the national governments. I know of a few cases where the UK government has been a bit silly in the laws they have made to implement the directives, and I wouldn't like to say the other EU countries are any better. But the MPs who complain about EU law didn't have to pass it in the form they did.

30:

Incidentally, as a farmer I was not allowed to store pesticides in the same building as foodstuffs. I had to put them in a specialised store, with a "bund" to allow for possible spillage.

Your local supermarket is almost certainly breaking those rules, though they don't apply. It's not just your garden herbicides, that can of insecticide to kill flies is a pesticide.

I've been in a supermarket that reeked of Roundup. Of course that made me nervous.

31:

john @ 23
I know about nicotine & paraquat, thank, you.
I saw you palm that card, implying something I had not said, nor implied.
ESPECIALLY DON'T make the sneering remark "Evolution is real"[!] Out of respect to Charlie, I'm NOT going to flame you RIGHT NOW, but where did I suggest it was not so? Are you that form of life, marginally more developed than the estate agent, and parasitic upon the body politic, a lawywer? You write like an especially nasty one.
Never mind the please, just don't do that again - OK?

I was thinking specifically of Sodium Chlorate & Copper Sulphate, as weedkiller & (greenhouse) fungicide, repectively.
Also "Dithane 945" fungicide - which breaks down in the environment into a FERTILSER, for Ghu's sake!
If you'd had 60% of last year's tomato crop go down to Phytophora infestsans you would want an effective, cheap fungicide.

OH NOE!
Dave Bell @ 29
PURLEASE?
Sod. Chlor. as bomb-making - maybe - but only if you want to blow YOURSELF up!
It is so unstable as to be untrue - worse than many detonators, because it is so unpredictable. So my father, a manufacturing explosives expert told me, anyway.
Anyway, it was always sold, recently, IN SOLUTION, with other chemicals, making explosive use impracical. Now stop parading your either ignorance, or swallowing of some bureacratic/big_agribusiness lie or other. Grrrr .....
You are correct, however, about storage - many people are much too careless about that.
My small quantities are kept in either metal or plastic "buckets" - in effect a minature "bund".

32:

Oh dear. The last thread went completely over your head didn't it?

33:

Thanks for providing clear info, it's appreciated. Rather more than what Channel 5 is doing -- one line stating that by continuing to browse, you are "agreeing" to the cookie policy; lots of work (hitting of links and reading of reams of small print) involved in finding out what the policy actually is.

NB like another commenter above, I use a Firefox add-on (Do Not Track Plus) and it states that no tracking cookies were found on this site. So presumably you haven't been hacked (yet)!

34:

Greg: Yellow card.

You're off-topic, and you're annoying the other commenters. Please desist.

35:

"Related: Colombian coca farmers have bred a Roundup resistant plant. One hears tales of horizontal gene transfers and crop-weed hybrids, too, as well as the pure chance mutants."

They probably planted seeds from surviving plants in sprayed fields.

36:

I've been having a chat with a colleague about the EU directive today, and what worries me most about (aside from the niggly hassle of having to jump through a load of hoops that people can't necessarily afford to satisfy a set of requirements that nobody is able to really accurately define) is that what is most likely going to happen is that the majority of sites are going to phrase the "do we have your permission to do what we are doing?" question in such a way that people click yes and get on with using the site.

So we move from a situation where rather than having an ecosystem where nobody has really granted anything to anyone and *some* people are abusing this and behaving badly and probably should have their wrists slapped to a situation where the vast majority of users have explicitly given permission for this to happen to them and therefore doing anything to the evil few that are abusing their position becomes much harder if not impossible. Not ideal...

37:

The problems with chemicals like Sodium Chlorate, and esp Copper Sulphate for fungus treatments, is that they do not go away. The chlorate degrades to salt, which while not especially toxic is not ideal. Copper, OTOH, stays in the soil forever.

38:

NaClO3 - "It is so unstable as to be untrue - worse than many detonators, because it is so unpredictable."
Not entirely true if you know what you are doing. However, quite a few substances sensitize it so you have to avoid them.

39:

Yep, if you read the full Wired article, that's exactly what happened. The US was adamant that wasn't possible, it would take 20 years to naturally select for Roundup resistant strains.

Intensive spraying across Colombia meant the growers passing cuttings back and forth did the trick in under four years. And now the US program acts as a benefit - the resistant coca plant grows much better in sprayed areas as the other weeds get killed off.

40:

I just had a thought. How much productivity across the EU zone is being lost at this very moment, as people who would otherwise be working field in-family support calls from older relatives of the form: "$website is asking me about cookies. It's never done that before. DO I HAVE A VIRUS!?"

41:

Good grief even a houseperson stores chemicals in place separate from where s/he stores the home's foodstuffs!

And on the farm my father never stored any of his pesticides etc. inside a granary or in the barn in which there were both animals and their food and bedding.

My father was also a pilot who did crop spraying for both weeds and insects. He had no illusions as to these things' potential harms to humans and animals.

42:

Also a big Thank You! for putting this up. It explains that "privacy - cookie tracking" contract Photobucket threw at me the last time I logged into my account there, and which I have "Private" clicked on every photo or illustration.

43:

I did not mean to imply that you deny evolution, and for that implication I apologise.

I meant to imply that it is very easy to forget that small local choices add up to a large overall selective pressure - i.e. evolution is not just real but ubiquitous -, and that for this reason society cannot simply rely on you personally being smart, careful and frugal when you use chemicals: it has to rely on on every bleeder in the country being smart, careful, &c.

44:

By continuing to watch Sesame Street, you are accepting that Cookie Monster uses cookies.

45:

"By reading this label you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions listed below"

46:

By opening the package you agree to abide by the terms and conditions listed inside. The PIP (Pig In a Poke) license agreement.

47:

For a while the web site klout.com had TOS that if you visited their site you agreed to their TOS. Net trick eh?

May still have it. They are an "influence" measuring site that some media outfits use to decide if you are worth hiring. Sleazy folks selling sleazy information to ...

48:

The best thing about the whole cookies business is this: I have my browser set so that it accepts cookies in the normal way, but will forget them all when I quit the browser (makes them all session cookies, really). This works fine for me: I lose various login information when I quit the browser but I'm very happy to do that.

But now a huge number of places have an annoying little popup thing of some kind which says "by the way we use cookies and click here to say you're OK with that", and I see that every time I restart my browser because, of course, they use cookies to know whether to show you the annoying popup.

So that's not a real improvement.

49:

Actually, cookies are quite useful.
I really do not like navigating some sites from scratch instead of being sent to the bits that interest me eg the BBC site.

50:

a crumb here, a crumb there, in a thousand years, there'll be a real collection of dough, if only it weren't mysteriously expanding past non-existent due date.

51:

Where to start? How about comment 1

> A vast non issue to 99.99% of Net users

Except when they have to click away an annoying dialogue on every website they visit.

> Nevertheless I believe in staying within the law by making this sort of policy explicit.

Except this isn't enough to comply with the law, because you might set cookies for a user before they've read this post.

> Do you prefer that a government make a somewhat dumb regulation, or that it completely ignore it in favour of letting the market decide? Does your answer change based on the field?

That's far too vague a question to answer - it depends on how dumb the legislation is and how bad the problem is. In this case the negatives far outweigh the benefits. The market is looking for solutions to this problem with things like Do Not Track.

I believe the best thing to do should have been to work with the browser vendors to ensure the browsers have the tools to let the users express their preferences, and once those tools have been standardised introduce a requirement for sites to comply with them.

> It's a rather toothless law that can be sidestepped by placing a notice that you're going to do so.

The initial guidance was that a notice wouldn't be sufficient - you'd need to provide the option of opting out. Then they realised that hardly anyone did anything other than display a notice and changed their guidance.

> I haven't read this directive on cookies, but my instinct is that it's a good idea. The reason I think so is the marketing industry is raging hard about it.

The marketing industry are raging about it because it's a pain to implement properly (notice how the ico site didn't comply until just before the deadline) and doesn't provide much benefit to the consumer.

52:

The Wired article is from 2004.

The official position is that it doesn't exist.

"One of the other myths we often hear about is the myth of super coca. There are people who claim that coca has been genetically modified or has evolved on its own to become some glyphosate-resistant coca. The people in the field in Colombia, every time this comes up, they investigate, the scientists look at it. We have never found the case that would lead us to believe there is any sort of super coca."

Who is right? Who to believe?

53:

And now the US program acts as a benefit - the resistant coca plant grows much better in sprayed areas as the other weeds get killed off.

Finally, an agricultural subsidy that benefits a third world nation.

54:

In this case I'd be inclined to believe the Wired article - their long winded articles tend to be fairly well researched. And the War on Some Drugs has a vested interest in making sure negatives are not publicised until Solutions are In Place.

It would be revealing to do a trawl through the wikileaks diplomatic archives to see if the 2003 letter to the President of Colombia mentioned in the article about shifting from Roundup to Fusarium exists, but I don't have the willpower.

55:

Yet interestingly, subsequent online articles (where a source is provided) cite the original Wired article.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there doesn't appear to be any independent verification of the existence of the super-Coca. Maybe one for the conspiracy theory thread?

56:

This is almost certainly at least somewhat off-topic, but I would personally love it if the comments that read "... replied to this comment from X" read "... replied to comment #N from X".

Unless #N is really, really a long time ago (measured in pixels) I prefer to scroll there, as I don't feel I lose context as much that way.

Thank you.

57:

Not that I think many of us will visit there often unless following a "deep link of interest" as I was, but the "Daily Mirror" are going with the "you're here so you have already consented to our cookies" appraoch.

58:

I assume the EU has to be doing some sort of meaningful, good things.

59:

Of course, the protesters against GM crops would love the chance to point and scream, but this gene must be a natural mutation, spread by the high selection pressure and normal plant-breeding methods: pick the plants which do well.

The thing is, glyphosate can fail to work. Dry weather in the wrong time slows the processes which kill the plant, and give other preocesses time to neutralise the glyphosate.

I've had this happen, and the company which sup[plied the chemical was very keen to suggest that the striping of the field, perpendicular to the tracks of the sprayer was a sign of inadequate mixing. It fitted the dry ground better than it fitted the spraying.

There were all sorts of reasons to doubt that, including the position of field drains. The stripes matched the drains, and there were no variations from one pass of the sprayer to another. It fitted the dry ground better than it fitted the spraying.

Now, I don't know how the herbicides are applied in Columbia, but I would be unsurprised if some coca plants did get a low dose, which is a classic element for the development of resistance mechanisms.

That's why I think natural glyphosate resistance is a plausible event, and one which could be exploited by the coca growers. And the DEA claims for 20 years are silly because they miss the role of human intelligence. This one really is a case of Intelligent Design.

And, just like the pesticide manufacturer, they're not going to admit something might not always work.

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