There’s lots of websites which have ignored the new law altogether. Whether they are somehow blind to the new behaviour of most of the rest of the net, especially the professional end, deliberately uncooperative or just merely contemptuous of the law altogether probably turns on the nature of their owners. One could expect an anarchist news service like SchNews to simply ignore this new law or at least to wait for the first warning from the ICO. Although they have not troubled themselves with the newly required warning, they have at least restricted themselves to a modest session cookie only (and a third-party cookie, from twitter).
On the other hand, you could expect the local Conservative Party to be fully compliant with the law. They are, after all, members of the same party which claims to be in charge of the whole country. You know, the one which has adopted the Liberal Democrats for the time being, the one which passed this new law. There local website puts four cookies on your computer but has no cookie warning of any kind.
I wrote extensively about the disaster that is the Brighton & Hove Liberal Democratic Party yesterday so it will come as no surprise to learn that their website is also in breach of the new law. New law? What am I saying? This law came into force over a year ago. The LibDems install five cookies on your computer and don’t warn you about this at all. I posted so many photographs of their risible efforts at a website on Wednesday that regular readers will be pleased to be spared the ordeal again.
What about Labour? Surely we’d see compliance from the party which proudly ensured that the European Convention on Human Rights was finally legislated into our law and, by so doing, finally introduced the concept of ‘privacy’ onto our legal shores for the first time? No. Labour throw five of their own cookies at your computer and then another six from three separate third-parties: shareaholic.com, w55c.net and adnxs.com. The first of those links goes to a site which deals in ‘analytics’, which means people who track where you just came from and where you might go. The middle address is so dodgy that there is an almost invisible one pixel website at its URL and the third one requires a password for entry. Not exactly the smiling face of the transparently democratic Labour Party of old. Here’s the Brighton & Hove Labour Party website as of yesterday, with no cookie warning anywhere that I could see.
What about the local UKIP candidate? PaulThe Plughole Perrin appears to live on the internet. He spends his life posting comments on other people’s blogs and trolling away on twitter. Presumably he’s worked out by now that almost everyone just blocks him. His nickname stems from the fact that with him political discussion disappears down a waste pipe. His website is delightfully simple: with a single page it is like one of those personal homepages you last saw in the late 1990s, with a terrible colour scheme to boot. To be fair though, the colour scheme is in keeping with the Kipper’s official livery. His website installs six of his own cookies on your website, two from PayPal and four more from Google Spreadsheets! Predictably, there is no cookie warning, meaning that he is also breaking the law.
When I first decided to write this blog post I checked first to see if my party, the Brighton & Hove Greens had complied with the new law. To my astonishment they had not. I was very surprised because we are stuffed full of techies. We have so much geeky talent that regularised and proficient bloggers like myself are surplus to official requirements. Swallowing hard against my instincts, I decided to do the right thing and give them the heads up on what I was about to post. I thought that with a little warning and in view of the fact that it ought to take no more than an hour to make any reasonably well coded political website compliant, my party would ‘go legal’ and shine in the tawdy shadows cast by their rival factions in the town. Alas, this has not turned out to be the case. Our local party’s website is maintained by the national party, which has been informed about the new law in detail. I know because I was copied in on the correspondence. I even shared the code I used on my video channels website with the local party and this was passed on too. Yet, our website remains illegal too. For the record, Brighton & Hove Green Party installs five of its own cookies on your computer and one more from YouTube. There is no warning on the site itself.
I find it particularly galling that my own party has disregarded the ‘new law’ such a long time after it came into force, after a month’s warning and a code snippet share from myself. I can’t help thinking that all parties (well, with the exception of the LibDems, I expect) have people like me in them. People who point out the law to them. It seems that there is a culture in our country that the law is there only for people outside the political class. Those who do or seek to govern us appear to disregard the law at every opportunity. Next time they moan about the lack of political engagement by the population, they should look to see whether they fought, lived and died by the same rules they impose on the rest of us.