Ever since the EU introduced the GDPR designed to better protect the user’s privacy, it has been made mandatory for websites to inform users that they might be issuing cookies. For those unfamiliar, cookies store user information and is used to help remember user settings, but in recent times, it has also been used to track user activity across multiple websites.
However, there are some websites that are abusing these new regulations, where they hide content behind what is known as a “cookie wall”, where they only display the full content of the website once the user accepts it. It looks like those practices could soon end as the European Data Protection Board is now saying that websites hiding behind cookie walls violate the EU’s data protection law.
This is because according to the EDPB, they claim that forcing users to accept cookies without being shown the content is not considered to be a “genuine choice”, and as such, consent isn’t being freely given. In a way, it would be like a company trying to sell you a product, where you would need to pay for the product first before being shown what you are actually buying.
The update guidelines also state that because a user choose to scroll a website without clicking the “accept cookies” button, it does not mean that it is consent. That being said, we imagine that given the number of websites out there, it could be tricky to enforce these rules, but hopefully the updated guidelines will make it easier for regulators to act on websites that flout them.