If you're a regular reader, you may have noticed a slight gap since my last post - July 31st to be precise. That's not good. But I do have some justification. And it wasn't just due to the lovely weather over the summer, when a cool glass of white wine took precedence too easily over another post. I've also been busy, along with my colleagues Mailin and Sherif, integrating my law practice into its new home at national law Shoosmiths which, I'm pleased to say, has gone really well. Apart from having found some great colleagues to work with, I've re-discovered my table tennis skills, thanks to my colleague Andy who demonstrates admirable skill in countering my fearsome topspin smash with a mean counter-attacking forehand.
But, no, digital media law is not being overlooked. I'm now getting back on track. And talking about tracking, I was speaking at the EASDP Congress in Amsterdam last week on the upcoming changes to Data Protection law (e.g. the 'right to be forgotten'and possible changes to the definition of 'consent' for lawful processing) and the further impact the Regulation may have on the tracking, profiling and targeting of individuals for online advertising and other purposes. David Worlock, one of the most experienced and wisest digital strategists, asked whether data protection law, present and future, allowed users to knowingly exchange privacy rights in a granular way with advertisers and with others.
At the moment, the nature of that exchange is blurry and still in the early stages of development. Think about the rather clunky way that you as a user give your consent to cookies. When you visit a website, do you bother to click through to understand the 1st and third party cookies that the website may serve to your computer before you proceed further or do you just get rid of the pop-up box?
The debate about cookies and consent can be very black or white - track or do not track. Interestingly, Google is exploring replacing 3rd party cookies, installed by companies such as ad networks or other parties, but not by the website you're visiting, with the use of a personal identifier. FT reported on this this weekend, and said that this ID would enable internet users to "...adjust a single setting in their browser to determine how much information about them is given to advertisers. But this is not a new approach. Apple blocks cookies with its Safari browser and gives users control over information contained in a single personal ID.
Returning to David Worlock's point, we need the technology to make it much easier for individuals to manage their online identity - or indeed to manage a number of different identities - so that the nature, extent and types of permissions we give to 3rd parties to use and share information about us can be varied according to particular contexts and particular instances.
My next post will be about the current debate about the re-sale of digital content content copyright material. If you're coming to the Frankfurt Book Fair, I'll be chairing a session on that topic at CONTEC. Please drop in to our session if you can.
Have a good week,