Monday, August 10, 2015

EUROPEAN UNION’S LAW ON COOKIES: Why don’t they let bloggers choose for themselves?



The previous week, I announced in my Facebook page that I would be regular on my blog, this week onward. I had nothing that I felt suitable to share with my reader after a short hiatus. The pressure mounted from that moment in Facebook. There are several reasons for my silence in blogosphere. The real question, however, is if it matters at all.

Blogging has apparently lost its dynamic appeal for a long period of time now. More often than not, blogs have been used by authors to promote their books and shopping sites for spreading info about their new products. Self-published and indie authors use blogs as their personalized tools for marketing, using interconnected links and sharing information about the site where their new born book would be available for purchase.

Book blogging made me rich in books. I am a biblio-millionare so to speak. Being one of the prominent book bloggers in India, I consider it my responsibility to enhance the use of blogs to invite potential readers to discover the world of books. I have a dictum that says we don’t find books, books find us. Still, there should be an opening through which the magical boy who never grows up could leap up into one’s barren world of mundane realities. Book bloggers provide that window to the land of wisdom.

There are others in this stream of “service blogging”, as I address it. I mean those people who take blogging seriously enough to use their skills in blogging to help others, to share something valuable.

Blogging on a general, personal level still exists too. The one thing that compromises the notion of popularity of blogs is the lessening of interaction with people through comments. Many bloggers complain that the number of comments they receive is almost zero, most often. An impediment to posting comments on a blog, they say, is perhaps the lack of time. Life is busy. We have smart phones. We have jobs. We have worries. One of the greatest of our worries is the lack of time. Perhaps, the lack of comments is the lack of time manifested.

Comments are not the only form of interaction available through blogs. Many ways open up when the artist or the blogger intervenes into the subjective reality of the reader. Myriad ways are adopted to share a special piece of information or wisdom with the reader. For example, when I do book blogs, I include links to the respective books and websites where the reader can receive information about the book and its author. Both the book’s author and the website that sells the book are benefited in this process. Tapping a link and exploring a new page depending upon one’s circumstances is another interaction that one may not anticipate in the read-comment binary.

Many similar services are available through blogs. I made available a time clock and calendar at a very early stage itself. What I thought was that the person spending a long period of time reading an article must be able to get some additional information regarding these simple facts. Many other ad-ons and cookies help readers get acquainted with the credentials of the respective blog.

As per definition given by Microsoft.com, “[c]ookies are small files that websites put on your PC to store information about you and your preferences. Cookies can make your browsing experience better by letting sites remember your preferences or letting you avoid signing in each time you visit certain sites.” These amazing forms of technology that help readers interact with a blog are sometimes used annoyingly by many. The problem is, sometimes, good guys are caught in a society’s pursuit of evil. No one cares about the good guys in such a situation. They suffer. Sometimes, they find a way out. Sometimes, though, the good guys simply stop doing what they used to. We have come to such a time.

Today, as I was about to make this ‘historic’ blog post, announcing my new weekly pattern, I came across an annoying message by Google. The message appeared on the blogger dashboard overview section. The European Union requires the blogger to announce the information regarding the presence of cookies in this blog to visitors. Google, as a courtesy has put up a banner for us. In order to see the banner we only need to use an extension such as “blogspot.co.uk” or “blogspot.fr” along with our blog URL, especially for those who are not from Europe. And we are supposed to make sure that the banner is visible and is exhibited on the site, according to the Google message. The banner they added reads thus: “This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalise ads and to analyse traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies.” The EU website that explains the cookie directive can be accessed through this link : http://ec.europa.eu/ipg/basics/legal/cookies/index_en.htm

EU may have its own reasons to get paranoid about cookies. I have observed that there are occasions when our blog link takes us on a random tour to some other site. These are malwares and instances of hacking added to our blog link and even to the body of the blog without the awareness of the owner of the respective blog. If you are serious about removing any inconvenience caused to people, remove these malware from blogs, or at least leave it to bloggers. Let blog owners help their readers.  It’s between them; why is a government agency so interested in this business?

Our readers are our responsibility. EU does not have anything to do with it. If it feels dominant over the internet domain that functions within its territory, it’s fine. But if someone questions the EU’s authority over cyberspace, under whatever premises, EU has to bring a reasonable justification forefront.

The cookie issue, I believe, is one of the recent instances of internet censoring. Small and silly it may sound. The echoes of this ‘minor’ intervention will certainly resound through cyberspace. The real question is, if this move from the EU could hinder the interactive dimension of blogging, which clearly isn’t limited to mere commenting on posts.

My silence in blogosphere, and perhaps, all those silences that I could intuitively be aware of cause similar interventions to our state of freedom. It may well be possible that at some point in time, we may be required to use a banner stating our status and position to share some particular information with our readers. Failing to do so might cause us loss of an opportunity. Recent killing of Bangladeshi bloggers is an example. Therefore, I believe it’s synchronicity that led me toward this moment on this day. I feel connected synchronically with the universal Source of all being. When I had nothing much to communicate with my readers, the Source of all being was kind enough to nourish me with a voice that spoke inside of me about the moment to respond. What a moment I chose to share my thoughts! This is the same day I had announced in my Facebook page that I would regularize my blog posts from now on. I am convinced that blogging hasn’t died out yet. Only the way we read or interact with it changed a bit.
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