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Cookie banner frustration to be tackled by EU


Plans to cut down on the “annoying” cookie banners that web users face have been released by the European Union.

Instead of giving consent to cookies on every website they visit, users would be able to set general preferences.

The European Commission said the plans, which would also remove banners for non-intrusive cookies, would help to tackle an “overload” of such requests.

But experts warned the plans could harm advert-funded media, as well as platforms such as Facebook and Google.

Cookies are small files that download on to a user’s device and enable tracking, sometimes to power advertising.

Since 2012, EU rules have required websites to tell users what cookies are being placed on their machine.

Typically, this meant a pop-up window seeking consent.

European Commission vice-president, Andrus Ansip, said it was now proposing simpler rules, “so that internet users do not have to click on a banner every time they visit a website”.

“This way, people will be more in control of their settings,” he said.

Under the plans, websites could read the cookie preferences set in users’ browsers.

Also, banners would be scrapped for cookies that do not invade users’ privacy, such as those remembering shopping cart history or counting website hits.

Last year, many internet companies called for the EU to scrap the so-called “cookie law”, introduced in 2012.

However, the latest proposals could end up damaging online services and frustrate web users, according to a senior executive at a trade body that represents many of the world’s biggest internet firms.

“The banners are certainly annoying. The question is whether they come up with something that’s better or worse,” said James Waterworth, vice-president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

He warned the proposals could harm a range of companies, from Facebook through to newspapers, if many users opted against allowing all but the least intrusive cookies.

“If this is done wrong and it’s much harder to obtain permission, then it could have a serious impact on ad-funded services,” he told the BBC.



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