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The EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications initially caused quite a stir 12 months ago, but the UK's Information Commissioner's Officestepped in and said that UK firms would have a year to comply with the regulations.  That year is up on 26th May and people are starting to talk about the EU Cookie Law again, however no-one seems to be exactly sure what the implications will be and the ICO is not offering answers to the questions people are asking.

What is the directive about?

The intention of the directive was to combat "tracking cookies" and other similar techniques used by advertising networks to analyse your online behaviour and offer targeted ads to you.  Cookies are small text files, stored on your computer by a website, that contain short pieces of information. These can range from the contents of your shopping basket to a unique (ish) identifier used by large ad networks to track your browsing history.  Whilst the files themselves are harmless, many privacy groups object to the non-consensual tracking of an internet user's browsing habits.  The "unique" identifiers used do not contain any real personal information and cannot track you across different computers or even different browsers on the same machine, however they allow ad networks to build up a profile on the person using that computer based on their browsing habits.  By analysing what sites you visit that contain their adverts, they can make an educated guess of your age and gender and get an insight into what you read about, therefore allowing them to show you adverts that have more relevance to you, in turn allowing them to charge more for the placement of those adverts.
Although data costs when at home are practically zero these days, and there are plans to reduce the cost of roaming when in the EU, using data whilst roaming is presently very costly and with more reliance on fetching e-mail whilst away from the office, bills have already started to creep up.

On more than one occasion Dixcart have had a very large bill dropped on our doorstep for unintentional over-use of data whilst roaming.

If you have a company mobile, PDA or iPhone and visit other offices, or even take your phone on holiday with you, read on to find out how to save yourself and the company a large phone bill.