European Union set to revise cookie law, admits cookie banners are annoying

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By Aprilia Reen

Something to look forward to: The requirement for websites to gain visitors’ consent to use cookies has given users more control over their data when surfing. However, it’s led to endless annoying “cookie permission” banners seen on most websites. Recognizing this issue, EU authorities are considering revising these requirements, although the outcome may hinge on the compliance of major platforms.

European Union Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders recently told German newspaper ‘Welt am Sonntag’ that the European Commission is aware of how annoying cookie consent banners have become and is discussing a remedy. He said that although websites can no longer activate cookies without informing users about them, the stipulation shouldn’t turn web browsing into a tiring affair.

Most website visitors in recent years have encountered banners or pop-ups requesting permission for various types of cookies, including those essential for basic site functionality, advertising cookies, and others. Fortunately, many sites offer a straightforward choice between accepting all cookies or blocking all non-essential ones. However, numerous sites require multiple clicks to refuse cookies, often tempting visitors to opt for the “allow all” button for convenience.

European Union set to revise cookie law, admits cookie banners are annoying

These banners are displayed to adhere to the GDPR privacy regulations implemented by the EU in 2018. Reynders mentioned that the commission aims to alleviate “cookie fatigue” while ensuring users comprehend online advertising mechanics and make informed decisions about their data. One proposed solution is to require websites to remember visitors’ preferences, thereby presenting the consent form only once per year.

The commission aspires for large platforms like Meta, X, and others to voluntarily commit to a “cookies pledge.” This pledge would involve providing transparent information about cookie usage and avoiding user annoyance. It is hoped that smaller websites will emulate this approach.

Balancing data privacy with advertising needs is not exclusive to regulators. Google has been working to transition Chrome away from cookies. Innovations like Trust Tokens and Privacy Sandboxes are designed to offer advertisers limited customer information while safeguarding personal data. However, there are concerns that Google might leverage these systems to limit browser functionalities, such as extensions. Google plans to phase out third-party cookies this month.

Google’s challenge is to find this balance, as advertising is vital to its business model. In contrast, companies like Mozilla and Apple, which do not rely heavily on advertising revenue, have taken more decisive actions against advertising cookies.

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