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    Wall Street Journal: EU Officials Try to Clarify Privacy Rules for the Web

    The Wall Street Journal takes a look at online privacy rules in Europe:

    PARIS—European officials are mounting a new push to clarify—and enforce—rules involving small Internet files that can be used to track users, exposing the slow progress of Europe’s plan to implement far-reaching privacy rules.

    Digital-privacy agencies from the European Union’s member countries hashed out new recommendations late last week for how to apply European data-privacy laws to so-called cookies, the common Internet files that websites use to remember things about users. The cookies can also be used by central aggregators to track users’ online behavior on the Web.

    The new guidelines, expected to be released as early as this week, regulators say, more clearly distinguish between relatively innocuous cookies that websites can deploy without users’ permission, and those for which regulators want websites to get user consent.

    Likely to stay on the consent-needed list: the cookies that are used to track users’ Web browsing in order to show the users targeted ads. […]

    But already that reading of the law has drawn opposition. Advertising groups say there are subtler ways of informing users and giving them ways to block the cookies. Some groups have released their own sets of “best practices” on how to notify users, alongside websites like youronlinechoices.eu that let users opt out from some tracking services. […]

    Agreeing on how to enforce privacy laws—in a situation where enforcement powers still rest at the national level—can be tricky. Meanwhile, the meaning of Internet laws and regulations can be slippery as technology is changing quickly.

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