Adtech: let’s get rid of cookie banners

A nuisance is troubling the Internet and the digital life of Europeans: the consent or ‘cookie’ banner.

With this intro, we asked the European Parliament to introduce provisions in the ePrivacy regulation that would allow you to express consent via your browser or software settings, as opposed to deceptive cookie banners. The letter was written by Open Rights Group together with the Panoptykon Foundation and Civil Liberties Union for Europe, with the support of 34 civil society organisations from across Europe and the world.

We had enough of cookie banners

Cookie banners are intentionally designed to breach our fundamental right to privacy by getting us lost in a maze of dialogues, endless checkboxes, and redirects to off-site ‘opt-outs’. As a result, most users will just say yes to what they would have otherwise denied.

Cookie banners have sometimes been purported as a GDPR failure, but the truth is a different one. Adtech crooks trained web designers to deceive us, and deprive you of the yes or no option you have the right to. These banners are so illegal under the law that Max Schrems’ organisation (who is also a signatory of our letter) has recently announced what could be the largest wave of GDPR complaints in the EU yet. 

A solution is at hand

Apple recently introduced a new consent framework that allows iOS users to say a simple yes or no to adtech companies’ request to track them across the web. Results have been astonishing, with 96% of users opting out of illegal online tracking despite Facebook attempts to gaslight them.

What has been achieved on Apple devices could be replicated elsewhere. The ePrivacy Regulation originally included provisions to designate legally binding signals, that could be used to allow users to express their privacy choices similarly. This could be your browsers giving you a yes or no choice over online tracking, as well as the option to tune your settings to allow only certain websites that you trust to use your data. 

Unfortunately, these provisions were scrapped by the Council of the EU in their last draft of the ePrivacy Regulation, following one of the biggest corporate lobby campaign to date. In the meanwhile, the California Consumer Privacy Act introduced provisions that will give legally binding status to Global Privacy Control, a standard signal to opt-out of data processing around the web.

The ePrivacy Regulation could enable a better Internet for everybody

We already wrote to the European Parliament before, asking them to stand up against the Council of the EU attempts to water down ePrivacy and accommodate the requests of an ad industry that is broken by design. 34 Civil Society Organisations are now following up on these requests, and are asking EU legislators to introduce legally binding privacy signals in the ePrivacy Regulation. This would provide an alternative to cookie banners, and allow Internet users to make choices via software settings that are designed to put us in control of our data, as opposed to cookie banners that are designed to put adtech companies in control of our choices.

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Ask Members of the European Parliament to stand up for ePrivacy, and #StopStalkerAds

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