Google is to restrict web pages from loading 3rd party profiling cookies when accessed via its Chrome browser. Many large websites, eg major newspapers make a call to hundreds of 3rd part profilers to allow them to build up a profile of people's browsing
history, which then facilitates personalised advertising.
Now Google has said that it will block these third-party cookies within the next two years.
Tracking cookies are very much in the sights of the EU who are trying to put an end to the
exploitative practise. However the EU is not willing to actually ban such practises, but instead has invented a silly game about websites obtaining consent for tracking cookies.
The issue is of course that a lot of 'free' access websites are
funded by advertising and rely on the revenue from the targeted advertising. I have read estimates that if websites were to drop personalised ads, and fall back on contextual advertising (eg advertising cars on motoring pages), then they would lose about
a third of their income. Surely a fall that magnitude would lead to many bankrupt or unviable websites.
Now the final position of the EU's cookie consent game is that a website would have to present two easy options before allowing access to a
- Do you want to allow tracking cookies to build up a database of your browsing history
- Do you NOT want to allow tracking cookies to build up a database of your browsing history
The simple outcome will be that virtually no one will opt for tracking, so the website will lose a third of its income. So it is rather unsurprising that websites would rather avoid offering such an easy option that would deprive them of so much of
In reality the notion of consent it not practical. It would be more honest to think of the use of tracking cookies as a price for 'free' access to a website.
Perhaps when the dust has settled, a more honest and practical
endgame would bea choice more like:
- Do you want to allow tracking cookies to build up a database of your browsing history in return for 'free' access
- Do you want to pay a fee to enable access to the website without tracking cookies
- Sorry you may not access this
The EU has been complaining about companies trying to avoid the revenue destroying official consent options. A study just published observes that nearly all cookie consent pop-ups are flouting EU privacy laws. Researchers at the Massachusetts
Despite EU privacy laws stating that consent for cookies must be informed, specific and freely given, the research suggests that only 12% of the sites met the minimal requirements of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) law. Instead
they were found to blanket data consent options in complicated site design, such as:
The researchers estimate it would take, on average, more than half an hour to read through what the third-party companies are doing with your data, and even longer to read all their privacy policies. It's a joke and there's no actual way you could do
this realistically, said Dr Veale.
- pre-ticked boxes burying decline buttons on later pages multiple clicks tracking users before consent and after pressing reject
- Just over half the sites studied did not have rejecting all tracking as an option.
- Of the sites which
did, only 13% made it accessible through the same or fewer clicks as the option to accept all.