We are all data slurpers now

A new ruling by the European Court of Justice has a potentially big impact on websites that deploy Facebook’s Like button.

There are actually several kinds of ‘Like’ button – they can allow the user to Like the page or product they’re looking at, or to Like the Facebook Page that accompanies the website they’re on – and the ruling seems to say that because clicking the button gives Facebook the user’s IP address and browser identification string, and sets cookies on their device, users should not be allowed to click it before they have provided their consent to that data collection.

The ruling also says that using these widgets makes the website’s owner a “joint data controller, along with Facebook” – which seems a stretch to us, as the host website never sees any data it collects and has no role in its subsequent processing. Crucially, that means that the website owner “must obtain that prior consent (solely) in respect of operations for which it is the (joint) controller, namely the collection and transmission of the data.” The “solely” part of hat sentence is a big deal, as it means we can’t rely on anything Facebook does or doesn’t do to allow users to give their consent.

This raises a number of questions:

  • Is it acceptable to treat the use of a cookie pop-up and / or clearly available privacy policy as “obtaining prior consent”?
  • Does the principle of the ruling apply to other embedded data collection mechanisms equally, such as the increasingly popular Facebook Pixel?
  • Will websites and brands want to take the risk of being treated as jointly responsible with big Internet companies for data that their websites collect?

The truth is, we need more GDPR test cases before we will really understand what the courts consider to be good practice in this area – but the web could be a pretty horrific user experience if every social interaction was disabled until the user gave explicit consent for it to be enabled.

We will watch the case with interest. In the meantime, clients who have any concerns about the implications should contact us for a chat.

You can read more about this story on The Register

Happy publication day to Lap of Honour

Today sees the publication of Tim Hain’s unique photographic tome Lap of Honour. When we designed and built the Lap of Honour site for Tim, he and his agent were working on finding a home for it, and we’re pleased that it’s now been brought to market by sports specialists Pitch Publishing.

Lap of Honour offers a journey back to the golden age of motor racing, through the lens of a revived 60s photographer. Tim Hain revisits his favourite haunts and heroes, and hitches a ride with Sir Stirling Moss, whose colourful foreword kick-starts the journey. ‘I can’t believe Tim has never held a press pass,’ Stirling writes. ‘His pictures are really great.’ Here is a true ‘fan’s eye view’ with evocative pictures and stories spanning 56 years, from 1962 to 2018. At the first Goodwood Revival in 1998, Hain’s interest was reawakened after 35 years. All he wanted was a picture of his first hero; but he went on to photograph Moss in 33 cars, with his input on each, creating a unique portrait of ‘The Maestro’. Tim encounters and interviews other 60s legends, candidly snaps a host of stars on and off the track, and gathers contributions from the likes of Murray Walker and musician Mark Knopfler. Lap of Honour has an intimacy, a sense of humour and a story behind every picture that makes it unlike any other book on motor racing.

On his experience of working with Bookswarm, Tim says:

“I find Simon and Bookswarm to be responsive, creative, easy to work with, eager to interpret my vision in an appropriate way, and above all prompt.  I am in safe hands. Bottom line – the page they created helped secure the signing of Lap Of Honour.”

We’re really pleased to have played a small part in Tim’s journey to being a published author, and wish him a happy publication day!

Lap of Honour is available to buy now