The end of the all-or-nothing cookiewalls

The end of the all-or-nothing cookiewalls

11-09-2018 14:58:06

Too often you come across websites with all-or-nothing cookiewalls, where you as a visitor ‘unknowingly’ – often due to ignorance – accept all kinds of tracking cookies. It may seem innocent: you save your preferences form a practical point of view. Then your surfing habits will be tracked and you will receive personalised advertisements, courtesy of the highest bidder.

Since the AVG came into being, nay websites – including the NPO – have changed this with a cookiewall that separates different kinds of cookies. You will be asked to accept each separate kind of cookie. And this is a very good thing. My jaw dropped in surprise when the NOS posted a negative article (Dutch) about this, however. First of all because they seem to have forgotten the importance of privacy completely. Second of all because objectivity seems to be no concern of theirs.

Surfing behaviour known to third parties

In 2012, the Netherlands named the unsolicited placement of cookies. The user must first accept the cookies before they can be placed. Until recently, all cookies were gathered into a single notification. This means that you could either accept that a website saves your preferences and allow the website owners and third parties to access your surfing behaviour, or keep your surfing behaviour protected and not save any personal preferences. Not many people realise the seriousness of sharing his or her surfing behaviour and unthinkingly accepts all cookies. This gives parties like Goole with its Analytics solution data from millions of websites. This provides very detailed information about users and scarily detailed user profiles. After the introduction of the AVG last May, several organisations have taken a closer look at their cookie policy.

Categorising cookies: a good move

There are different kinds of cookies to be discerned. For example, NPO categorises as follows:

-          Advertising cookies – personalised advertisements based on your surfing behaviour;
-          Social cookies – social platforms get access to your surfing behaviour;
-          Recommendation cookies – other websites show recommendations from related websites you have visited before;
-          Other cookies – think about functional cookies for personal preferences or performance cookies.

The fact that the user must answer a number of questions before they can access the website is labelled as ‘not user friendly’ – they would experience it as inconvenient if accessing a website would take that long. Separating cookies into subcategories, however, comes with two major advantages. First of all, it ensures ease of use without the direct consequence of being tracked. By separating cookies, the user can save his preferences and enjoy that the next time he visits the website again. Also, separating the cookies into understandable questions creates more awareness among internet users and that is something that BIT has been trying to do for years now.

By: Alex Bik