Thursday, May 24, 2012

Credit Card Fees viz. Charges in Europe: EU General Court Upholds European Commission Ruling Against MasterCard While Competition Commissioner Readies Charges Against Visa Europe

A European Commission competition ruling in 2007 prohibiting multilateral interchange fees by MasterCard was upheld by the General Court of the Court of Justice of the European Union on May 24, 2012.

For the text of the ruling, see European Court of Justice judgment T-111/08 MasterCard and Others v Commission (Competition).

The European Commission ruling had a significant effect on credit card charges at the time, as MasterCard halved its charges in 2009 to avoid penalties.

Visa Europe reduced debit card charges in 2010, but EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said that fees on card transactions are too high and that formal charges against Visa Europe are being readied.

Crossposted at LawPundit.


Friday, May 18, 2012

EU Internet Cookie Law One-Year Grace Period Ends May 26, 2012 and Confronts Websites and Blogs with Compliance Problems

[Our own solution to this problem is found described in the previous posting at EU Laws.]

On May 26, 2012,
one of the more prominent legal and Internet headaches
in European Union lawmaking will dawn,
namely the question of how to abide by
the "new" EU Internet Cookie Law,
formally the "EU Privacy and Communication Directive",
which already went into effect a year ago,
but for which an extra grace period of one year was granted
to permit a standardization of website compliance -- a necessary standardization which has not happened in the interim.

Worse, the implementation of the Directive by the various EU Member States is not uniform -- creating an unnecessarily complicated situation given the cross-border nature of the Internet.  See Paul McCormack at Tech Republic in Cookies and compliance: Has your website taken these six steps? where he refers to the DLA Piper report on How The EU Has Implemented The New Law on Cookies (updated December 5, 2011, showing various implementations).

Rory MccGwire, Chief Executive, BHP Information Solutions, writes as follows on May 10, 2012 at the Law Society Gazette in How the new EU cookie law affects law firms:
"It’s now 10 May, we've less than three weeks to go. I know of many websites that will switch over to a compliant version a week before 26 May. But has anyone seen examples of full compliance already being put into practice on a commercial website? I would be interested to know."
We focused on this problem last year at

Privacy Law and the EU Internet Cookie Law Opt-Out Option Deadline: European Union Companies Given One Year by EU Commission to Standardize Cookie Tracking Consent Mechanism

writing

"As we previously reported at LawPundit, the European Union "EU Internet Cookie Tracking Law" came into effect on May 26 of this year (2011) via the 2009 EU Directive, protecting user privacy rights by requiring that users be informed by companies of the extent of their cookie tracking and be given the option to "opt out" of such tracking."


92% of blogs and websites use cookies, so this law applies to nearly everyone with blogs or websites or businesses located in Europe.

Many websites and blogs use third-party services without themselves knowing exactly what cookies they place. 

Furthermore, many serious sites, such as online banking, social media, email programs, and yes, even search engine settings, rely on cookies for operation. How else could you post easily to Facebook or Twitter from a third-party page if there were no cookies?

Such "necessary" cookies are permitted by the EU directive as exceptions and no express opt-in is required for them since the "opt-in" is presumed from the use of the service.

The solution we adopted for our own blogs, which rely on Google Analytics, is Silktide, as described in the previous LawPundit posting.

Please be aware that we are not recommending the use or installation of this or any other solution and expressly disclaim any liability for any solution that any website, blog or other Internet presence takes regarding this EU law. When in doubt, consult your attorney.

European Union Cookie Law Compliance Solution: A Free Open Source Plugin at Silktide together with a Definitive Guide to the Cookie Law

We have spent quite a bit of time looking for a plugin solution to the EU Cookie Law -- about which we will report in more detail at the next posting -- and -- until the fog clears about that EU Cookie Law -- have provisionally found a free, open source solution at Silktide that we are going to use on our blogs, which rely on Google Analytics, as many Blogger blogs do, for visitor stats, and Google Analytics uses cookies.

See Silktide - Become compliant
And see also Silktide - Definitive guide to the Cookie Law

The advantage of this open source solution is that it is "opt-in" and should be compliant with the various non-uniform implementations of the various European Union Member States, some of which require prior "opt-in" consent.

It will probably be wise just as a general precaution to also put in additional information about Google Analytics in the Terms of Use or a similar special information page devoted to cookies, and so we plan to do that as well when we finish installing the Silktide solution on our blogs.

Please be advised that we are not recommending the use or installation of this particular plugin solution and expressly disclaim any liability for any solution that any website, blog or other Internet presence takes regarding this EU law based upon our installations or opinions.

When in doubt, consult your attorney.

Crossposted at LawPundit.

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