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EU Privacy laws-Internet Marketing: Europe kills the cookie monster

Ever clicked “Yes” to an online pop-up banner that read, “I have read and agree to the terms and conditions” — even though you didn’t and had no idea what would happen to your personal data?

This regulation is for you.

The European Commission’s proposed e-Privacy Regulation announced Tuesday would restrict how companies listen in on calls and read messages and emails over telecoms networks and the internet.

But the Commission is taking aim at the annoying “cookie” banners that have taken over the internet in past years. They’re asking websites to get rid of the banners, forcing websites to try harder to make it clear to people if they’re going to collect and sell their personal data.

So-called cookies are small files copied onto a person’s computer or mobile device that can do things like remembering the content of a shopping bag, a username and a password. Thanks to cookies, if you were looking for holiday houses one day, chances are ads for accommodations would pop up on the side of other websites you visit.
Cookies and more sophisticated software “trackers” are increasingly used by advertisers, growing into a €160 billion global online ad industry, according a recent report by Statista.

Under the proposed rules, consumers would choose a level of protection in their internet browsers, such as Google’s Chrome browser or Apple’s Safari. Websites would then read the users’ security preferences and load web pages accordingly. Only websites serving customized ads will still have to ask visitors if they can copy cookies on their devices for marketing purposes.

“Internet users do not have to click on a banner every time they visit a website,” Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip said. “They will be able to make an informed choice.”

The banners haven’t always been there though. When the European Parliament reviewed the e-Privacy Directive in 2009, it included the obligation for companies storing data to have people opt in, rather than opt out. Coders started building banners across websites to comply.

Now, the Commission wants them to take down the banners again for anything that’s not invading people’s privacy.

“If you set a high level of protection, it doesn’t mean you won’t get ads. But you’ll get more boring ads,” he said. “If you set it lower, you get more customized ads, more relevant ads, and that’s not always bad … De facto, I believe many people will want to switch them on.”

Read more: Europe kills the cookie monster – POLITICO

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