Last week Sirius Legal met with the Belgian Data Protection Authorty as the legal representative of the united Belgian digital industry about the use of analytics cookies.

On 7 January sector organizations ACC, BAM, Cube, Feweb, SafeShops.be, UBA and UMA (representing agencies, advertisers, web builders and webshops) met with Belgium’s DPA to convey their concerns about the way in which prior explicit consent must be requested for the use of analytics cookies in online environments today. The sector organizations, which together represent the broad spectrum of the Belgian online world, did so on the basis of an extensively substantiated position paper that was written by Sirius Legal.

Major concern in the entire sector is the fact that the obligation to request the consent of website visitors by means of a cookie banner causes very great economic damage to the sector. A lot of website visitors, some statistics speak of more than 80%, simply click away the often annoying cookie pop-ups or do not opt-in. As a consequence, webshops and online marketers miss out on essential statistical data about website visits and visitor behaviour on their website, that is crucially needed to optimize their web content. This creates a great deal of frustration because in neighbouring countries the use of such analytics cookies is possible without prior consent from the website visitor, which creates a serious competitive disadvantage for Belgian online entrepreneurs.

The entire industry is very committed to online privacy and welcomes the transparency that mandatory cookie opt-ins bring when it comes to data collection for marketing purposes. However, the industry insisted on the great urgency for the DPA to take action when it comes to (anonymous) analytics data. The same message will be presented to the competent minister, in order to provide for a similar exception for Belgium as those which already exist in France, the Netherlands or Germany for strictly analytical purposes. High-performance websites, which are adapted to the expectations and needs of the consumer, are in the first place also to the advantage of precisely that consumer. After all, good analytics data makes it possible to offer better services and products, under better conditions and at better prices, to precisely that consumer.

Position paper and relevant articles

The full position of the sector has been elaborated in a position paper that provides a very good outline of the current issue and reflects the point of view of the entire digital sector.

Over the past few months, we have written a number of articles about this issue at Sirius Legal and are particularly pleased that our position paper is so enthusiastically endorsed throughout the digital sector. Sirius Legal, together with BAM, the Belgian Association for Marketing, and the other associations, will take the necessary steps to arrive at a proposal for text and negotiations with the cabinet of the Minister Mathieu Michel. We will certainly keep you informed!