UK plans to reduce cookie consent boxes in breach of EU data law

The government says the move will result in far fewer of the “disappointing” boxes that appear online.

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Britain wants an end to the wave of pop-ups for consent to cookies.

The government says the new data reforms will significantly reduce the number of banners that appear on websites that ask people to give their consent to cookies. The plans are part of a broader package of reforms from the United Kingdom that seek to deviate from EU data protection rules.

Cookies are small files created each time you visit a new website. They store information about your browsing habits and preferences. Some are virtually harmless, helping sites function properly.

Others, such as those used by advertisers to track your browsing habits, have raised privacy concerns. Google in fact, it plans to discard third-party cookies used for advertising and replace them with an alternative to privacy.

The UK is proposing to move to a framework where users can opt out instead of having to choose whether to opt in to collecting cookies, which the government says will result in far fewer “disappointing” boxes appearing online. .

“Adequacy” of the data

Digital Affairs Minister Nadine Doris is pushing for reforms in the UK’s data laws following the country’s withdrawal from the European Union.

However, some worry that the change could push British data standards too far from those of the EU, threatening the so-calledadequacy“an arrangement that allows free flow of data between the two.

“EU adequacy decisions do not require states to have the same rules,” a government spokesman told CNBC.

“We believe that these reforms are fully compatible with maintaining the free flow of personal data from Europe.”

Herbert Swanicker, a technical lawyer with Clifford Chance, said the EU would closely monitor the UK’s plans.

“These reforms will have to carefully balance the maintenance of this hard-won solution,” Swanicker said. “Some are worried that the reform could threaten the EU decision to allow the free movement of personal data to the United Kingdom “

The British government has said it also wants to increase fines for annoying callers from the current high of £ 500,000 to 4% of the company’s global turnover, or £ 17.5 million, whichever is higher. .

Such changes will affect the 2003 Privacy Act, not the UK version of the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation, which seeks to give people more control over how their data is used by organizations and threatens solid fines for non-compliance.

Another measure means that small businesses will not have to appoint a data protection officer responsible for supervising internal compliance, provided that companies “can effectively manage the risks themselves”.

Eliminate bureaucracy?

The government says the reforms will cut unnecessary bureaucracy, saving £ 1 billion in business savings over 10 years.

But some experts worry that they could actually cause more trouble for companies, forcing them to apply separate data standards for the UK and the EU.

Killian Kieran, CEO of data security firm Ethyca, said the removal of cookie consent banners “could destabilize the UK’s ability to innovate globally”.

“Completely eliminating the usual legal basis mechanisms for web analytics, site performance, marketing and more is a significant business constraint,” he told CNBC last month.

“For example, an international market can only be open to UK companies if they take additional steps to protect data, such as restricting data collection or data processing in that country.

The Data and Marketing Association, a trade organization for marketers, said it welcomed the latest proposals, but added that “not all the recommendations made by our member organizations have been accepted”.

“We will continue to look for greater clarity in the final legislative texts on the use of legitimate interests,” said Chris Combemail, the association’s chief executive.

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