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Google restricts cookies on Chrome amid privacy fears

June 21, 2022

Advertising cookies are to be restricted on websites by Google over fears the consent pop-ups flout EU privacy laws.

It will affect sites accessed by the Chrome browser.

Third party cookies are used to track users and their habits across the internet and have already been outlawed by Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla. First party cookies are not affected.

Google’s Director of Chrome Engineering, Justin Schuh, said in a blogpost: “Users are demanding greater privacy – including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used – and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.”

Mr Schuh spoke out as the Irish data protection authority is probing Google’s practice of real-time bidding for online ads.

According to the BBC, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University College London (UCL) and Aarhus University have published a study into five companies which offer consent management platforms (CMP) for cookies used by the UK’s top 10,000 websites.

Researchers said it could take half and hour or more to read through how data is used and even longer to plough through privacy policies, which they concluded was unrealistic.

EU privacy laws state consent for cookies must be “informed, specific and freely given” but it appears just 12% met minmal General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

They discovered practices such as burying decline buttons and pre-ticked boxes.

Quantcast asks for permission to share data with 542 different companies, explains co-author Michael Veale, of UCL.

The firm told the BBC: “Our default recommended settings grant equal prominence to the ‘I Accept’ and ‘I Do Not Accept’ buttons, and do not pre-select choices for any data processing purposes.

“While we strongly encourage that these defaults are used, website owners ultimately retain control over the customisation and presentation of their properties.”

Newcastle University law professor Lilian Edwards said that since GDPR’s introduction in 2018 there has been little effort of enfoce cookie rules.

She told the BBC: “The problem is that getting large fines through post-GDPR is proving a very long process.”

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