The days of websites asking you to enable cookies could be numbered, with new proposals to allow a single opt-in at browser level aiming to save time and energy of clicking ‘Allow’ or ‘Don’t Allow’ at every single website.
The government has outlined its new Data Reform Bill, a more UK-centric version of the GDPR legislation introduced by the EU and largely adopted into British law.
For all its regulations (and hefty fines), GDPR doesn’t actually stipulate any rules around cookies – something the Data Reform Bill looks to change.
Reports have claimed the government’s plans could allow users a one-click opt-in or out, doing so from their browser. However, others suggest that these aims may not be so straightforward in practice. A separate part of the outline report suggested that many websites simply wouldn’t have to state whether they install cookies, and instead given the freedom to simply do it.
“The government intends to move to an opt-out model of consent for cookies placed by websites,” it reads. “In practice, this would mean cookies could be set without seeking consent, but the website must give the web user clear information about how to opt out.”
It goes on to say that the opt-out model won’t be applicable to any websites specifically aimed at children.
These plans have been met with a mixed response. TechUK called it a “welcome package”, claiming it could make things clearer, more flexible and more user friendly. The Open Rights Group, however, said that, with personal data being used for various ills, depicting protection as a burden was “wrong, irresponsible and negligent”.
TechCrunch, meanwhile, said it would politely call the government’s plans “ambitious”. This was because, for all the benefits the move could bring, it may also result in Britain losing its ‘adequacy’ status from the EU, which could slow down or even stop business-critical data flowing in from the bloc.
“Just the pure compliance costs of a loss of EU adequacy have been estimated at between £1bn and £1.6bn,” it said, “so, best case scenario, that potential outcome would immediately gobble up all the ‘red tape’ savings DCMS has attached to the reforms.”
Of course, this is currently just at the outline report stage currently, with a long way to go before it becomes a bill, let alone makes the long journey through parliament. Many changes could yet be made.