Ad blockers do not stop cookie pop-ups, but this browser extension will

Ad blockers do not stop cookie pop-ups, but this browser extension will

I flew to England last year, and boy were my arms tired! I’m tired of clicking cookie pop-ups on every website I visit ie.

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: and banners or pop-ups which often appear, uninvited, when you go to a website you’ve never been to before. They should tell you that the website is tracking you using tiny pieces of code called cookies and give you a way to refuse those cookies, as required by law in certain places (England, for example). What pop-ups usually do is tell you that the site you’re visiting uses cookies to give you a better experience, but you can – and at this point you’ve probably stopped reading the fine print and just hit the big bright button that says “ACCEPT” because you don’t have time for this. Now you’ve done exactly what the website wants you to do: you’ve agreed to be tracked.

“You’re forced to spend extra time to deal with these things, to hunt and find the environment that you want to be easily accessible,” Jennifer King, a privacy and data policy fellow at Stanford University’s AI-Centered Human Rights Institute, said. is Recode. “They’re boring.”

If you’re tired of trying so hard to maintain your privacy, I have good news for you: there are ways to decline cookies and block those pop-ups from appearing in the first place. A new one was announced today, called Never-Consent. It comes to us from Ghostery, which specializes in privacy-focused web tools. If Ghostery does as it promises, it will make maintaining your privacy as easy and quick as clicking “accept” on those pop-ups. The price will be the “personalized” experience that retailers say their cookies provide.

While some cookies are necessary for the website to function and, in fact, improve your experience, many of them are simply there to follow you around the web and collect data about you, usually from companies you had no idea were embedded on that website. page first. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was supposed to tell users that they were being tracked and give them a way to opt out of that tracking.

GDPR is well-intentioned in theory. But in practice, many companies have bent the rules to give us these misleadingly worded banners that no one understands and everyone hates. If you are looking for examples dark patternsor designs intended to manipulate people into doing or choosing certain things, you can usually find them in the nearest cookie consent pop-up.

“They make it really super easy to click a button that says ‘Yes, I accept all forms of tracking,’ and they make it super hard to say no,” said Harry Brignull, who coined the term “dark patterns” and follow them on your website. “For example, they might have a maze of menus and dozens of things they can click on different pages. None of this stuff really needs to exist – the only purpose is to trick or frustrate you into giving up and just clicking the big shiny accept button.”

You may have noticed that there are also many American websites. You may also have noticed that many more have added banners in the last few years. That’s probably because California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into effect in early 2020. The CCPA says websites must at least tell users they’re being tracked. Unlike the GDPR, it does not require websites to give users the option to refuse cookies unless users are under 16. Instead of trying to figure out the relevant details — which visitors are teenagers and which are adults, which users are in Europe and which aren’t, and which users are in California and which aren’t — many websites just went with the consent banner to cover their bases. And then most of them reject cookies as the path of greatest resistance.

That’s where Never-Consent comes in. It also blocks pop-ups and automatically rejects cookies. Never-Consent will be added to the Ghostery’s browser extension in the coming weeks. All you have to do is install the extension and it will do the work for you, the company says.

Krzysztof Modras, director of engineering and product at Ghostery, said the company basically looked at about 100 existing cookie consent boxes and came up with a way to automatically reject and block them. Framework Interactive Advertising Bureau Europefor example, is included about 80 percent European websites, but was also recently found to be in breach of the GDPR. (Oops!) This means that some websites can get away with not using the third-party cookie consent mechanism known to Ghostery. But users can report those pages to Ghostery and those frames will be added.

There are a several other extensions you can try to do something similar to Never-Consent. If you don’t want to bother with finding and installing browser extensions — and Brignull points out that browser extensions and the companies that make them can also track you, so be careful who you trust — you can always use a browser which blocks tracking cookies by default. At this point, almost everyone does except for Chromewhich is by far the most popular and also produced by the company with interest in following you over the internet, which must be a coincidence.

There is also Global privacy control, which automatically tells websites not to sell or share user data. But GPC is not available on all browsers (Chrome and Safari, primarily), but websites are just forced to honor it for users in California, under the CCPA. The United Kingdom is working on ways to get rid of cookie pop-ups and replace them with a browser-based tool. Ghostery’s extension blocked third-party cookies before Never-Consent. But now you’ll also be able to actively tell those websites you don’t want them to track you by passively blocking their cookies.

“I think the big picture is that it’s important to have a tool that not only blocks these things, but actively sends disallowances back to publishers,” said Jean-Paul Schmetz, CEO of Ghostery.

How much does it really matter to websites that put up pop-ups designed to confuse and annoy you into putting up with them? I’m not so sure. Especially if, like me, you live in a place that doesn’t have privacy laws that require companies to respect your preferences. But at the very least, it will give you a sense of standing up for yourself.

Just don’t think your days of annoying pop-ups or tracking are over forever. Companies are increasingly using them to encourage you to sign up for newsletters and marketing emails. It is their way we still collect data about you now that cookies are on the way out. As we’ve seen from the proliferation of cookie pop-ups, companies are always looking for — and likely will find — a new way to track you as their current method dies down.

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