What do those pesky “cookie preference” pop-ups really mean?

As part of the GDPR, companies outside of Europe can be subject to hefty fines if they track and analyze EU visitors to their websites. In other words, let’s say your company is located in New York, but the company has European visitors and customers, or collects their data. If so, they could be fined tens of millions if they don’t disclose their data collection and get users’ consent.

U.S. companies understandably want to avoid hefty fines, which is why U.S. users are seeing more and more such permission boxes.

These boxes are designed to give users more control over their data, as EU law is in place to protect all data belonging to EU citizens and residents. The chaos in the U.S. market exists because the country has no similar laws to protect the privacy of its citizens.

Saryu Nayyar February 2022 for Forbes It’s time to ask if it’s the US version of GDPR. Such laws, Nayyar wrote, focus on “obtaining explicit consent to the collection of data and its deletion when consent is withdrawn.” It sounds like a great idea, but after consulting with Montouli, the privacy plot gets more complicated.

Personally, I find it impossible to separate cookies and privacy online. I asked Montoli if everything on the internet was really on the internet.

“No,” he said. That’s because the information on the Internet is separate from your current online status. The purpose of a cookie is to let a website know when the same browser returns. Cookies may contain other information. “But its main use is to pass the ID as an identifier to your browser,” he said.

“So they can see that this is a browser from seconds or even months ago. But once the cookie is cleared, you don’t have any attachments anymore.”

The lack of transparency about how cookies work and who manages the data collected from them is an important part of the problem. When you visit major websites that employ third-party ad tracking networks, your browser may acquire third-party cookies without your knowledge. “The lack of transparency means that another cookie from another website adds embedded content without your knowledge.”

If you regularly clear your browser’s cookies, you and your personal data will no longer have any attachments, at least for that first-party site, Montulli said. “When you return to the site after clearing your cookies, or even if you have a new set of cookies, there is no association between your browser and the browser that used the old cookie to connect to the site a few months ago.”

To test this hypothesis, I tried managing and blocking cookies on random sites. I completely ignored any permission boxes asking me to accept cookies. Most of these sites allow me access anyway. Only a few sites blocked me because I ignored the permission box. In these cases, the only decision I had to make was whether to trust the site. Since I don’t actually need to read any of these sites, I just move on. Most importantly, it doesn’t hurt to choose which cookies you want to accept and which cookies you want to block. Just be prepared to do this every time you visit or every time you clear your cookies, you should probably get used to doing this regularly.

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