The UK’s privacy watchdog wants websites to make it easier for visitors to “reject all” cookies.
Internet cookies are small files that help to identify users and deliver a more personal and targeted browsing experience.
The Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO) believes many of the most popular sites are still not providing users with “fair choices” when they first visit a web page.
Also used by advertisers as information-gathering tools, cookies identify user preferences and online behaviour, allowing advertisers to target ads more effectively.
While it is often simple for a user to “accept all” cookies, the process of rejecting them can be an arduous undertaking.
The watchdog has warned the worst offenders that they have just 30 days to make changes to simplify the process.
ICO executive director Stephen Almond noted: “Many of the biggest websites have got this right.
We’re giving companies who haven’t managed that yet a clear choice: make the changes now or face the consequences.”
The fact that these cookies record a user’s data, such as their network, device and browsing history, presents privacy-related concerns.
While cookie pop-ups give visitors the option to control how cookies are collected, the watchdog believes these pop-ups are often unclear.
The ICO has already urged website owners to do more to make it easier to reject cookies with a single click.
It has given them a month to address the imbalance between “accepting all” and “rejecting all” cookies.
The ICO states it has stopped short of shaming those who haven’t complied with its requests.
However, an update in January will divulge those details and outline the penalties, which could include fines, for failing to address its concerns.