Google Cookies, the GDPR and – the 8th Amendment

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I am impressed.

Whenever there was some big monkey theatre going on, Hubbs would always say:  “What are they trying to distract us from?”

So all of Ireland was in the throes of voting yay or nay to the abortion issue, on Friday.  With all of Europe watching in suspense.  Why on Friday?  Because, coincidence (?), Friday was also the day the much more boring GDPR came into force.

Yay or Nay

Sentiments were running pretty high.  As my daughter and I walked home from an awards night we’d been attending, a lady grabbed her sleeve and stopped us.

“Are you voting tomorrow?”

We’ve had abortion forever.  Women in the middle-ages would consult a herbalist (back then known as a “witch”) if they wanted to lose an unwanted baby.  Also, in stone-age Germania, there were clearly social rules…  they found bog-mummies of young women and their babies. These young girls and their babies had been drowned by the community to “get rid of it”;  “it” being the problem of the unwed mother.  Significantly, it was the mother and child who caught the community’s wrath, not the boy who caused the situation.

What am I saying?  It’s not a cut-and-dried issue.

… and the Internet changes while we aren’t looking

Abortion legislation is monkey theatre.  BIG monkey theatre.  Everyone is up in arms, emotionally het up…

…little realizing that the way their personal (private, public and professional) data that websites guzzle from them…  via tracking cookies and other methods… this affects ALL of us…

Interruption: Data is or Data are?

Datablog at The Guardian writes:

“For what it’s worth, I can confidently say that this will probably be the only time I ever write the word “datum” in a Datablog post. Data as a plural term may be the proper usage but language evolves and we want to write in terms that everyone understands – and that don’t seem ridiculous.

So, over to Guardian style guru David Marsh, who makes the rules in these parts about language use. He says:

It’s like agenda, a Latin plural that is now almost universally used as a singular. Technically the singular is datum/agendum, but we feel it sounds increasingly hyper-correct, old-fashioned and pompous to say “the data are”.

And the Guardian style guide expresses it like this:

Data takes a singular verb (like agenda), though strictly a plural; no one ever uses “agendum” or “datum”.

… that your personal data is now being processed “differently”.

How, differently?

Well, brilliant news:

You have more rights now!

(So why on Earth would someone want to distract you from this?)

And websites have more obligations, and more limitations on what information they can ask of you, what it is used for and how long it can be kept.  And where it can be kept.  And who can access it.


In a nutshell, Facebook and a partner of theirs were caught with egg on their faces when the data collected from Facebook users in fun, online “personality tests” was mined to predict people’s political opinions and therefore the users were being targeted with political ads.

Blogpals, why was nobody surprised?  The surprise was that it made big news!  We all knew Facebook is a huge data-minefield data goldmine.

The upshot:

Websites across the interwebs now have to ask your permission to mine your data, and they have to (if you ask) disclose what they are using it for.  (Wow!)

And most importantly:

You have a right to be forgotten!

You can ask (and they have to comply) for the deletion of all data a website, business or in fact anyone holds on you.

This is what the thousands of updated privacy policies in your inbox are about.  And the fact that you can’t turn left or right on the internet without cookie notices being pushed into your face (I’m getting really hungry here).

What it means for P’kaboo:

(who are primarily concerned with protecting our authors’ copyright) :

Dear P’kabooleans, we have always been compliant!

  • We don’t use cookies.  (Sorry.  Got to bake your own.  Recipe above.)
  • We know about client confidentiality.  What data we have on you, is safe.


What we haven’t yet done, which has been rectified now, is to have a comprehensive privacy policy document on our site.

Click this link to find our privacy policy.

Our privacy policy complied to the laws and best practices at the time:  We very simply promised our users and visitors that 1) we wouldn’t mine data from them that they themselves didn’t give us, and 2) we would never abuse their data to either spam them with advertisements or – horrors!! – sell it to a third party for whatever reason under the sun.

In fact, our users’ data was treated by us with the confidentiality of a doctor’s office.  (That’s something to do with my background.  I worked in medical diagnostics for quite a number of years.)

I don’t like duplicity.

Be aware that no matter how stringent privacy laws are, there’s a caveat that people are very seldom informed of.

A court of law can override any data protection law.  Even your most trusted doctor has to hand over your confidential data file if ordered to by a court of law.

So these laws are literally there to keep untrustworthy businesses in check from doing a rip-roaring B2B trade with your personal data.

Oh, and have you noticed?

Places that ask you to agree to their use of cookies, now have TWO options you can click.  You can choose to reject the use of tracking cookies.

Sorry, Edit:  Some places have two options.  Clearly WordPress and Google don’t.  Thanks for the heads-up, Chris. 🙂

I’ve done it already 5 times today.

Does it mean you cannot then enter that website?  Here’s the surprise:  No!  The website opens for you just the same, they still want your business…  only that they don’t have a way of bullying you into accepting cookies any longer.  (Remember how those dreadful pop-ups would never close until you clicked “OK”?  Well….)



10 thoughts on “Google Cookies, the GDPR and – the 8th Amendment

  1. The Guardian, Datablog and David March have overlooked that the scientific community will still need to differentiate between a DATUM segment which IS important and DATA segments which ARE not!

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