Beware the Cookie Monster

If you’ve not heard about the Cookie Law and happen to work on the web then you’ve probably been living in a cave for the past year. If this applies to you then you can fill in the gaps on the ICO website.

Go on. It’s ok. We’ll wait.

This law and its varied interpretations have confused and annoyed many professionals and after over a year has actually done little to fix the issues the lawmakers intended to solve. At its worst the more invasive solutions have been confusing users with technical jargon they have little interest in.
Because of this the majority of the industry has adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude to the law. But not everyone has seen the law as unnecessary and ineffective; some have seen it as an opportunity to scaremonger and scam people.

Heather Burns has written on the ideaI5 blog about one such company who are using the fear of possible fines as a way to scare people into paying for an audit that will determine their compliance with the cookie law.

Mostly businesses adopt ethical practices but some forego these in favour of an ever increasing thirst for wealth. This thirst leads to companies doing all they can to make a quick buck, even if that means working outside of the law. The tactics these companies adopt to scam people can not only cause a lot of hurt but also tarnish the public’s perception of an industry.

While we can do little to stop these companies, so well do they cover their tracks, we can at least warn people as Heather has done and educate people about what scams exist and how to avoid becoming the next victim.

A good rule of thumb is to treat unsolicited email very much like traditional cold calling. No ethically run business will contact you out of the blue to generate business and such contact should always be ignored. If they offer services of genuine interest then follow up with a different company, one you have researched yourself or been positively referred to. Only by doing so can you be confident in getting treated well.

By naming and shaming such businesses and techniques hopefully those who would otherwise fall victim to such scams become more knowledgeable and learn when to spot a scam and how best to avoid them.

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