Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

sweden

EU Cookie law in Sweden

Slowly but surely we’re getting a picture of what is expected of website owners (and indeed application providers) in respect of the Swedish response to the EU directive on online-privacy.

The Cookie Law

a bin that looks like Cookie Monster eating a cookie

Photo by Timm Schneider

Most of us are calling it The Cookie Law, but it’s broader than that. The Swedish Electronic Communications Act covers (amongst other things) the storage and reading of information on a terminal device and how you must obtain consent from the user prior to reading or writing such information.

A terminal device isn’t just a desktop or a laptop computer – it could also be, for example, a mobile phone, tablet, internet TV, or even a game console.

For the majority of websites, the data the law refers to is in the form of HTTP cookies, but it also includes Flash cookies, Silverlight cookies, HTML5 web storage, and other similar types of data transferred back and forth across the internet.

Some cookies are excluded from the law. These are cookies (or other such information) that are essential for the provision of the service you are accessing.

The most straight forward example is that of a shopping cart on an e-commerce site. You’ll have to come to your own conclusion about what is essential and what isn’t on your website.

What’s the response so far?

At the time of writing, most websites are either saying nothing or following the previous law from 2003, SFS 2003:389, which required website owners to declare that they used cookies.

A relatively small number of sites have taken steps to comply to the new law. The ways in which they have tried to comply varies from token gestures through to large consent banners covering the prime real-estate of the website.

screenshot of polisen.se showing a large cookie opt in banner

Screenshot of polisen.se featuring an opt-in banner

An onslaught from PTS?

PTS have a fair bit of information on their website to assist website owners. There’s no need to panic, the PTS isn’t going to jump on websites and close them down. Their normal routine, if they receive a complaint, would be to communicate in writing with the website owner, containing some advice and the chance to correct the situation.

During the 8 year lifetime of the previous Cookie law, only a handful of websites were warned, and no website was prosecuted. I expect it will be a similar situation this time round too.

The Swedish trade organisation, IAB Sweden, has produced guidelines as to how to comply to the law. It was stated during the preparation of the new law that best practice should be developed by website owners, the IAB’s recommendation is an expression of such best practice.

The IAB recommendation

What IAB recommend, and a recommendation I endorse for Swedish websites, is that the browser settings can be used to imply consent – but, that consent can only be inferred if the use of cookies is described and explained in a way that is easily understood.

All cookies, including third party cookies, should be explained. Information should also be given explaining how the user can withdraw the consent (by disabling cookies in their browser).

icon to indicate the use of cookies

The “We use cookies” icon produced by IAB

IAB have produced an icon that can be used to clearly signal that your site uses cookies. They’ve also produced a website, minacookies, that helps explain to users what cookies are as well as providing a home to their recommendations and guidelines.

Audit, be transparent, explain

So, if you are a Swedish company or organisation, targeting a Swedish audience, then you pretty much know what to do – audit your cookies, be transparent, and explain the choices.

You should also do your best to tidy up and remove any scripts and features that you don’t need. (This is not only good housekeeping, but it also helps improve performance and speed of your website.)

It’s even a good chance to check the effectiveness of certain website features? Put measurements in place and assess them (if you don’t already). That Facebook like-box might not actually be worthwhile after all…

Targeting countries outside of Sweden

Sounds simple so far? Well, what complicates matters is that each EU country is putting in place their own interpretation of the EU directive. Some countries are going to have much stricter interpretations of it than Sweden.

European law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse has produced a really useful table giving a country by country implementation status and a synopsis of the legal requirements.

If you are actively targeting people in other EU countries, then you will almost certainly need to comply with the relevant cookie laws in those countries.

Visits from non-targeted countries?

Visits from people in countries that you are not actively targeting are, in my opinion, a bit of a grey-zone.

Technically, you are transmitting and storing data on the user’s computer if you are using cookies – but having a website that specifically complies to all the laws in all other EU countries is going to be awkward at best, impossible at worst.

There’s no guarantee of a one-size-fits-all solution being possible, with the possible exception of the hardcore implementation – no use of cookies on your website.

Nordic and Baltic countries

For Swedish companies, one positive thing to note is that most of the countries neighbouring Sweden – namely Denmark, Finland, Estonia, have implemented the law in a way that is no more strict than the Swedish law. The exceptions to this are Latvia and Lithuania, where a strict prior opt-in (not implied by browser settings) appears to be required.

a map of of Scandinavia and The Baltics showing which countries require strict opt-in

Red require strict opt-in, Green via browsers settings.

Norway is not an EU country and is therefore not required to implement the EU directive. That said, Norway often implements them anyway – but at the moment, no formal proposal has been made, and no change of law has been implemented.

Business with integrity

Suffice to say, the Swedish cookie law isn’t out to get normal, honest, websites. It’s there to catch the abusers; the less honest. So those of us running businesses with a fair dose of integrity have nothing to worry about.

Of course, the content of this blog post is just my opinion, you should obtain specific legal advice for your own company.

It would be great to hear in the comments section below what your company has decided to do to be compliant…


James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

How many Twitter users in Sweden 2011?

At the beginning of this year, Itellecta Corporate presented the results of their Twitter Census, based on data collected in December 2010.

This week Aitellu has presented their research, based on data from the last week of November 2011.

They found that there were 146995 Swedish Twitter accounts.

146995 Swedish Twitter accounts

What counts as a Swedish account?

Twitter bios were analysed and profiles with Sweden as their location or one of 20 Swedish cities (including certain recognised abbreviations) were classed as Swedish.

Also included were profiles with a bio written in Swedish.

Who gets missed?

As with Twitter census, this method of counting misses anyone who hasn’t filled in their bio or location, as well as anyone tweeting in another language than Swedish during the sample period (such as English). It will though include people with protected tweets that meet the above criteria.

Any Swedish account that isn’t followed by another Swedish account will also be missed due to the way accounts were crawled.

This figure also includes Swedish businesses, organisations and non-human accounts as well as people.

How many active Twitter users?

According to the information given in this tweet 83029 of the 146995 Swedish Twitter accounts have tweeted during the past month (which presumably is the month up to the 20th of December 2011).

83029 active Swedish Twitter accounts

The number of active Twitter accounts according to Intellecta’s study was 35993 – but these two figures are not comparable as Hampus Brynolf used a much narrower definition of what was active.

Growth

Even though the methods used to measure differ between the two studies, it’s reasonably safe to say that the number of Swedish Twitter accounts has increased during 2011. At the moment though, it’s difficult to come to any conclusions on the number of active Twitter users.

Let’s hope that Aitellu release some further details, including some figures that are more comparable with the Twitter Census.

Update 2012-01-18

Aitellu hasn’t released their own further details yet, but Ajour has been given a preview. They have revised the number of Swedish accounts upwards slightly to 153,000 and come up with a figure of 87,000 active Swedish accounts – which according to Ajour was produced using the same critera as Intellecta.

It’s can be exactly the same critera due to the different methods used to collect the data, but it is never the less possible to say that there has been a signficant increase in the number of active Twitter accounts here in Sweden during the past year.


James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

Social Intranets & digital natives

One particular statistic from the Swedish internet use report for 2011 was how everyone in Sweden in the 16-25 age group uses social media.

For a fair while we’ve been discussing the expectations of young employees in the workplace, but this statistic is about as big as a wake-up call as an organisation can get.

It’s time for companies to stop slacking, pull their intranet socks up and get social.

Digital natives

Let’s paint a picture. Jesper is 25. Not long out of university and has spent pretty much as long as he can bother to remember using MSN instant messaging, texting, and socialising with his friends via Facebook. All the time.

He’s been receiving constant feedback, answers, and opinions around the clock. At the same time he’s been giving feedback, answers and opinions to his peers around the clock. It’s a totally natural part of his life. A digital native.

Social media sites blocked

So what happens when he enters the corporate world and sits behind his laptop at work? He replicates his natural behaviour outside of the workplace. He expects to be able to network with his colleagues and his professional contemporaries in the same way as he does naturally outside of work.

But your organisation hasn’t embraced social business. The intranet is still a place for pushing news articles from internal communication. Facebook access is blocked. Internally, email is still the king.

Jesper is starting to regret accepting this job and realises that next time, he’s going to do his company culture homework a lot better.

He then pulls out his iPad from his bag and opens up all his normal social networks, invites all of his colleagues to be friends, or follows them, or connects with them and starts working.

Carry on regardless

Circumnavigating your attempts at blocking sites, working outside of your firewall, he has filled in the gaps. It doesn’t matter any more whether you think it’s a good idea to have a social intranet, or haven’t budgeted for one – the digital natives in your workplace are going to network regardless.

Providing social and collaborative tools inside the firewall (or within the realm of the organisation) will help you retain some of Jesper’s knowledge though his social behaviour and turn it into a digital asset for your company.

Banner for IntraTeam Event 2012James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist, web and intranet manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

This blog post was born over a beer and a chat in Stockholm with intranet pioneer Mark Morrell and Martin Risgaard, Social Media Strategist at Arla Foods.

Social Intranets & digital natives

One particular statistic from the Swedish internet use report for 2011 was how everyone in Sweden in the 16-25 age group uses social media.

For a fair while we’ve been discussing the expectations of young employees in the workplace, but this statistic is about as big as a wake-up call as an organisation can get.

It’s time for companies to stop slacking, pull their intranet socks up and get social.

Digital natives

Let’s paint a picture. Jesper is 25. Not long out of university and has spent pretty much as long as he can bother to remember using MSN instant messaging, texting, and socialising with his friends via Facebook. All the time.

He’s been receiving constant feedback, answers, and opinions around the clock. At the same time he’s been giving feedback, answers and opinions to his peers around the clock. It’s a totally natural part of his life. A digital native.

Social media sites blocked

So what happens when he enters the corporate world and sits behind his laptop at work? He replicates his natural behaviour outside of the workplace. He expects to be able to network with his colleagues and his professional contemporaries in the same way as he does naturally outside of work.

But your organisation hasn’t embraced social business. The intranet is still a place for pushing news articles from internal communication. Facebook access is blocked. Internally, email is still the king.

Jesper is starting to regret accepting this job and realises that next time, he’s going to do his company culture homework a lot better.

He then pulls out his iPad from his bag and opens up all his normal social networks, invites all of his colleagues to be friends, or follows them, or connects with them and starts working.

Carry on regardless

Circumnavigating your attempts at blocking sites, working outside of your firewall, he has filled in the gaps. It doesn’t matter any more whether you think it’s a good idea to have a social intranet, or haven’t budgeted for one – the digital natives in your workplace are going to network regardless.

Providing social and collaborative tools inside the firewall (or within the realm of the organisation) will help you retain some of Jesper’s knowledge though his social behaviour and turn it into a digital asset for your company.


Banner for IntraTeam Event 2012James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist, web and intranet manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

This blog post was born over a beer and a chat in Stockholm with intranet pioneer Mark Morrell and Martin Risgaard, Social Media Strategist at Arla Foods.

Swedish internet usage 2011

.SE (Stiftelsen för Internetinfrastruktur) has released their yearly report (in Swedish) about Swedish internet use. It covers a wide spectrum of internet use, from file-sharing through to social networks.

I’ve previously written about the 2009 report with specific focus on Swedish blogging statistics. This time I’m going to give a more general summary of interesting findings from this year’s report.

Internet usage

86% of the Swedish population over the age of 18 use the internet. This has risen by just 1% in the last year. Additional people are still coming online, but they are largely limited to the over 65 age group.

In 2011, 69% of adult Swedes are using the internet daily.

Amongst Swedish internet users, two activities are so widespread that they could be considered to be done by everyone. Those are searching using Google (97%) and reading/writing email (95%). Searching for news (92%) and timetables (90%) are not too far behind in their popularity.

49% of three year olds are occasional internet users (64% within the 3-5 age group). The age-group in which the majority have used the internet has become younger year after year.

That the “start age” for internet use has reached such a young age as three is perhaps connected to the rise of smartphones and the mobile internet, as well as tablets such as the iPad.

More intensive internet usage – that is to say daily usage – amongst 3 year-olds has remained relatively constant (2-3%) during the past 3 years, whereas it has risen for every other age between 4 and 9.

Swedish blogging

46% of internet users read blogs (up from 37% in 2009), with 8% writing a blog (up from 6% in 2009). 16% of women and 5% of men read blogs daily. The number of young girls reading blogs has increased dramatically in recent years. 52% of Swedish girls between 12 and 15 read blogs daily. The equivalent figure for 12-15 year old boys is 1%.

Blog reading is predominately a female activity for every age group until the age of 76+. Reading blogs on a daily basis is overwhelmingly a female activity from 12 year-olds up to 45 year olds.

Social Media usage in Sweden

Half the population, 52%, use social networks. All of them have a Facebook account. This figure has increased 10% each year in recent years, and shows no signs of slowing.

In the 16-25 age group, the use of social networks has reached the point where you can say that pretty much everyone in that age group (95%) now uses social networking.

35% of those who use the internet use social networking sites daily, with Facebook obviously dominating. 7% though said they have used Twitter at some point, with 2% saying that they use it daily.

Digital natives

The age group that dominates in so many of the statistics in the report, is the 16-25 age-group. This generation is undeniably the digital generation. Many activities and usage patterns of this group can be routinely described with phrases such as “everyone” or “majority of”.

Despite high overall levels of adoption, the internet in Sweden is far from being a level playing ground. This is important to bear in mind in your digital activities.

Update: 2012-01-13

Swedes and the Internet 2011 has now been released in English.


James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

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