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Automattic,, Jetpack, European cookie laws and transparency

Setting the scene In Legal checks when building a content-driven WordPress website, I discussed cookies — not the edible variety but the small text files that are stored on your computer or mobile device when you visit or undertake certain activity on certain websites (for further information about cookies, see I observed that, whilst many countries don’t have laws that require disclosure of cookies, in Europe there are specific (and controversial) cookie laws. Website owners in European Member States are required to: provide clear and comprehensive information about the cookies they are using; and obtain consent to store a cookie on a user or subscriber’s device. There are some narrow exceptions but I don’t think I need to mention them again. Questions The questions I want to explore in this post are these: What are the implications of the European cookie laws for European users of and Jetpack? Are users of and Jetpack able to obtain sufficient information as to the cookies that these services set? If not, do the cookie laws …


A brief history of WordPress

Many have written accounts of the birth and growth of WordPress. For example, there’s a punchy timeline in the WordPress codex, an interesting 10 year visual history on WPMU DEV and interesting posts on WPExplorer, WPBeginner and Kinsta WordPress Hosting. An even richer account is likely to be released soon, as certain WordPress aficionados are currently writing “a new book about the history of WordPress drawing on dozens of interviews with the original folks involved and extensive research”. For the purposes of this blog, I don’t need to explore the history of WordPress in the same level of detail (and it’s best that I leave that to the historians and others). It does help, though, to set out a few key points about WordPress’s development as well as the nature and roles of Automattic Inc and the WordPress Foundation. They help one understand the origins of the WordPress software, the legal structure around WordPress and its licensing, the relationship between WordPress and and the relevance of the WordPress Foundation. In addition, the origin of …