DATA DOCTORS

Why cookie notices are everywhere on the internet

Oct 17, 2020, 5:45 AM
Photo by 
Bongkarn Thanyakij from Pexels...
Photo by Bongkarn Thanyakij from Pexels

Q: Why is every website these days asking me to accept their cookies and how do I know which ones to accept?

A: We’re all seeing these pop-up notifications just about everywhere we go on the internet and you can thank the European Union (EU) for this latest online irritation.

The EU invoked the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) back in 2018, an 88-page document that outlined privacy and security requirements for anyone providing goods and services in the EU.

Since there aren’t physical boundaries on the internet, it forced everyone around the world to comply with these new regulations regardless of where they may be located.

Cookies and Consent

The most visible impact of the GDPR is the pop-up notification asking for consent to place a cookie on your computer.

To review, cookies are small text files that can help websites identify returning users or track them across huge advertising networks.

Those ads that seem to follow you all around the internet for something that you recently searched for are made possible by cookies.

The convenience of not having to log in every time you visit certain websites is also brought to you by cookies.

Cookies can store user behavior information such as how long you were at their site, what you clicked on, items you left in a shopping cart, preferences or settings that you chose and much more.

Cookies themselves are not good or bad, it’s how the website that places them on your computer uses them that concerns the EU.

The intent is to provide users with the details of what the website would do with the information they collected from you, which is why all of the notifications have a ‘learn more’ link.

The reality is that virtually no one can decipher details of these notifications because they are not written to be understood by the average user.

Managing Cookies

Since some cookies are actually desirable, blocking them all would result in a completely different online experience.

Cookies from general websites you visit can generally be rejected while accepting cookies from sites that you use on a regular basis is reasonable.

A button to reject the cookie may not be an option on some websites, so there are a number of ways to manage them.

Ignoring the notice, which is generally at the bottom of the screen will prevent the cookie from being placed on your computer, but that means the notice will be there whenever you go on that site.

Using the private or incognito browsing option – which is available in all browsers – will automatically get rid of any cookies placed on your computer when you close the browser session.

If you want help automatically managing tracking cookies, the Brave browser offers a number of tools.

By default, it automatically blocks third-party cookies, which are most commonly used to track you across the internet, but you get pinpoint control of every website you visit using their “shields” interface.

The well-meaning attempts to regulate personal data often creates unintended consequences and with the EU continuing to press for more control, you can expect other weird things to pop up in the future.

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Why cookie notices are everywhere on the internet