The new EU Cookie law comes into force on 26th May 2012. I have been having much fun looking for cookie solutions for WordPress.
I’ll be honest, I think this new EU Directive is absolutely ridiculous. Protecting privacy? No, just making life difficult for small business owners who have enough red tape to jump through without worrying about anonymous cookies that don’t collect any form of personal data too.
Anyway, we’re stuck with the new cookie law, whether we like it or not.
The conclusion I have come to is there are no easy cookie solutions for WordPress. The problem isn’t just WordPress cookies, but everything else too.
- Comments – cookies
- Social share buttons – cookies
- Email optin forms – cookies
- Analytics – cookies
- Ads – cookies
- Embed videos – more cookies
The list goes on.
Quite simply, website operators must:
- tell people that the cookies are there,
- explain what the cookies are doing, and
- obtain their consent to store a cookie on their device.
There is an exception to the requirement to provide information about cookies and obtain consent where the use of the cookie is:
(a) for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network; or
(b) where such storage or access is strictly necessary for the provision of an information society service requested by the subscriber or user.
So, an ecommerce shopping basket cookie is “strictly necessary”, your anonymous analytics data is not. Obviously, these people have no understanding about running any form of business online…
Read the ICO’s recommendations – here (PDF)
The WordPress Cookie Problem
Looking for cookie solutions for WordPress has been like searching for a needle in a haystack. There are several solutions out there – but very few designed specifically for the platform. Rather surprising given how popular it is, but shows what a mammoth task it must be.
I started by opening my multitude of browsers (Opera, Firefox, Chrome and (urrgghh) IE), clearing out all the temp files and cookies then opening my website. Then I looked at what cookies had been dropped to get a baseline reading.
Google analytics sets several cookies, there was also a tracking cookie from Tynt. Several YouTube cookies, 3 from Get Response (email optin), Shareaholic (sharing), Stumbleupon, Twitter and Facebook (sharing)
Two ad cookies turned up also, I’m not sure where these are from since I don’t run ads on my website – there’s one banner ad with no cookie set. These cookies are tracking cookies from AdNexus and M6D. I’ll need to do some checking on where they have come from.
Cookie Solutions – WordPress Plugins
I’ve looked at three free cookie “solutions” in the plugin repository. One didn’t work for me and the other two would not be adequate to meet the new law.
- CookieCert EU Cookie Directive
This cookie solution looks impressive on first visiting their site. However, I installed this and my website simply would not load at all. It’s possible that there are conflicts with the multitude of plugins I have and/or the theme.
- Cookie Control by CivicUK
Once again, this solution looks good to go. The banner is customisable to match your site colour scheme. However, while it does request permission to drop cookies, when you look at it closer, cookies are already set. It does stop the WordPress cookies – just not the multitude of others from share buttons, analytics, email optins etc.
- EU Cookie Directive by Richard Telford and Chris Thompson
Not as customisable as cookie control, but you can set the cookies to block before permission is set. I used it straight out the box and several WordPress and Google Analytics cookies were already defined. On closer look though, WordPress and GA cookies were still dropped even without consent.
So it would appear there is no easy cookie solution for WordPress – if you know of one, please do let me know!
Plan B was to see if any of the other solutions were easy to implement and work. I have been watching what Wolf Software have been up to. Unfortunately, they do not have a WordPress specific solution.
However, Interhacktives do have instructions on how to make Wolf Software scripts work on WordPress cookie law scripts. I am not a coder and jiggling with scripts is not my forte! Far too complicated for me…
I came across CookieQ, they have a semi-solution…
The “simple features” solution for smaller sites is free to use, and it almost works! I copied the code between (and including) the <script></script> tags and pasted those into my header section. Then put the iframe into a widget in the footer of my site. I used the footer as some pages do not have sidebar widgets.
And tada… MOST cookies blocked. Getting through were YouTube – which can be solved by using the privacy option when picking up the embed codes, 1 of the 3 Getresponse cookies and 1 Shareaholic.
It would appear there are no easy cookie solutions for WordPress, simply down to the huge range plugins and themes.
Do you know of any cookie solutions that work well with WordPress? Share your thoughts below.Cookie Solutions For WordPress - UK Cookie Law Deadline 26th May by Jan Kearney