Data Reform Bill to Finally End Cookie Pop-Ups and Fine Spam Callers

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport  has finally laid out the full details of how it plans to kill off the annoying cookie banners on web browsers. Co-conspirators will know this has been a longstanding campaign of Guido’s – a small, yet meaningful test of the UK’s regulatory sovereignty after Brexit. Switching to an “opt-out” model, rather than blasting users repeatedly with pointless pop-ups, was obviously a more elegant solution. Turns out the government agrees.

Having trailed the move in the Queen’s Speech, and now following a consultation, DCMS has explained how it plans to repeal the Cookie Law for good:

“…the government intends to legislate to remove the need for websites to display cookie banners to UK residents. In the immediate term, the government will permit cookies (and similar technologies) to be placed on a user’s device without explicit consent, for a small number of other non-intrusive purposes. These changes will apply not only to websites but connected technology, including apps on smartphones, tablets, smart TVs or other connected devices.

In the future, the government intends to move to an opt-out model of consent for cookies placed by websites. 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. This would allow the government to realise its ambition to improve the user experience and remove the need for unnecessary cookie consent banners. The opt-out model would not apply to websites likely to be accessed by children.”

The move will be put forward as part of the planned Data Reform Bill, which promises a “clampdown on bureaucracy, red tape and pointless paperwork”. The bill will also remove the need for smaller businesses to have data protection officers, and whack up fines for spam callers and nuisance texts. Finally…

mdi-timer 17 June 2022 @ 10:00 17 Jun 2022 @ 10:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Government to Finally Scrap Pointless Cookie Pop-Up Requests

Co-conspirators will be familiar with Guido’s longstanding test of whether the government is really committed to diverging from the over-regulation of the EU: do they abolish the endless online pop-up banners reminding users that websites will use cookies to store information about them. The banners are both obvious and tedious – we all immediately click yes, yet they pop up constantly as we surf the web. A typical, pointless EU directive.

Despite plenty of lip service from the likes of Oliver Dowden, the pop-ups persist. Today, however, the cookie may finally crumble. Guido understands the Queen’s speech will contain an explicit promise to end the annoying, time-wasting requirement for cookie box-ticking via the new Data Reform Bill. The process will be streamlined, and everyone will save a few precious seconds of their day – at long last. Brexit was worth it.

mdi-timer 10 May 2022 @ 09:01 10 May 2022 @ 09:01 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Politicians Angry With Social Media Risk Fundamentally Undermining Free Speech

Priti Patel and Nadine Dorries have reportedly written to the Cabinet arguing that sweeping new powers are required to force internet companies to monitor for “legal but harmful” user content, something that is dangerously vague and intrusive.

Matthew Lesh, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, is right when he says

“The Online Safety Bill is going from bad to worse. The Home Office demand for social media companies to proactively monitor legal speech is a recipe for censorship on an industrial scale. It will mean that Meta (Facebook) and Google will be required to read private messages between consenting adults. This is deeply disturbing and will result in a less safe and free internet. The state should not be requiring monitoring and the removal of legal speech. These duties will also impose huge costs on start-ups and smaller companies, deterring tech investment and solidifying Big Tech dominance.”

During the pandemic Big Tech has run riot stifling legitimate debate on the grounds of public health concerns, if this continues and spreads into general censorship it will be disastrous. The problem is politicians generally are so fed up with the abuse they get on social media they are angry enough to overturn the widely accepted free speech norms of the free world for a more authoritarian approach.

Everyone agrees monitoring for illegal content like child sexual exploitation is a desirable priority. Monitoring legal content that might vaguely be harmful is entirely different and the Home Office is wrong to deliberately conflate the issues. We would be on a slippery slope to laws protecting the “dignity of the state” and stifling criticism of politicians. In many authoritarian countries insulting government officials is an offence. It is not unimaginable that in the near future Jolyon Maugham would be organising a fundraiser seeking to bring a case against Guido for “harming” Prime Minister Starmer if this legislation goes through…

mdi-timer 16 February 2022 @ 08:47 16 Feb 2022 @ 08:47 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
DCMS’s Coding Cock-Up

Happy national coding week everybody – undoubtedly a key skill most children should learn in school. DCMS welcomed the week in with a tweet about how “learning digital skills is essential” – a lesson their social media team clearly needs to take to heart. The post began with the mock code:

<b>It’s National Coding Week!<b>”

Theoretically <b> would make text bold in a coder. Embarrassingly, the second tag should include a forward slash ‘</b> to end the code line. Much like their hypothetical coding intention, the message becomes rather less punchy when you spot the error…

mdi-timer 14 September 2021 @ 10:02 14 Sep 2021 @ 10:02 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Dowden Commits to Doing Away With “Pointless” Consent Cookies Requests

DCMS Secretary Oliver Dowden tells The Telegraph this morning that he plans to do away with “endless” cookie banners, the pop-up notices that plague our online browsing to tell us what is patently obvious, that websites store personal information about you. Some nerds will wet the bed at this news. Guido set this as a test of whether divergence from the over-regulation of the EU was real. We have long campaigned to get rid of the stupid box-ticking that is required countless times a day…

Iain Duncan-Smith’s Taskforce for Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform – the group investigating how the UK can capitalise on its new regulatory freedoms post-Brexit – explained why the ‘Accept Cookies’ request is a waste of time:

“Both behavioural science and common sense tell you that putting a ‘tick to accept’ box in front of someone at the point they want to access a website or service does not generate genuine informed consent, it just means people are likely to tick ‘accept’ without thinking…a good measure of whether reform is successful will be the end of pointless cookie banners.

Before data privacy fetishists get all angsty, here are some suggestions as to how transparency and privacy can be monitored less intrusively:

  • A toggle could be set at browser level by users one-time to “accept cookies”
  • Websites by default would presume cookie acceptance, whilst being required to allow those users who wish to reset cookie preferences on a standardised privacy page such as websitename.com/privacy
  • Websites could be just required to list cookie providers

Here at Guido, because we want to provide a free-to-air service funded by advertising, we drop advertisers’ cookies. Consequently, we take a militant line against people who want to loot our content without being exposed to the advertising that pays the salaries and expenses that go into producing that content. That is the bargain we make with readers.

Think of the productivity boost from not wasting time every day you are online clicking on irritating cookie banner pop-ups. This alone will make Brexit worthwhile…

mdi-timer 26 August 2021 @ 09:53 26 Aug 2021 @ 09:53 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
London’s Venture Capital Scene for Tech Firms Booms Despite Brexit

Despite leaving the EU last January, UK tech firms scored a record-breaking £11.2 billion in venture capital funding in 2020. Raising more cash from investors than the rest of Europe combined…

According to Dealroomnew investment funded the creation of seven ‘unicorn’ companies – firms worth over one billion dollars. This is more than any European country, and more than Germany and France put together. Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The thousands of high-skilled jobs they are creating will be a crucial part of our economic recovery and the government is committed to supporting the tech sector through an unashamedly pro-tech approach.”  Despite dire predictions, neither the pandemic nor Brexit scare stories are halting the UK’s tech prowess…

mdi-timer 18 January 2021 @ 12:30 18 Jan 2021 @ 12:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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