Easy privacy without many clicks

September 6, 2023 | Uncategorized

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has significantly improved the protection of personal data. While this is very pleasing from the perspective of internet users, it also comes at a cost: On our journeys through the digital world, we have to answer numerous cookie consent banners to use websites and services. Quickly clicking them away can endanger privacy and impair the user experience.

How many clicks for the desired data protection?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced a uniform and binding set of rules for all EU countries at the end of 2021. It replaced a vast patchwork of legal regulations and guidelines that were interpreted and implemented differently from one EU country to another. Companies had to keep track of no less than 28 data protection laws.

The legislators primarily aimed this uniform set of rules to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of consumers, not businesses. That’s the theory, but what does its practical implementation look like?

For consumers, it’s now indeed possible to precisely choose their desired level of privacy for each website. But the path to that can sometimes be rocky. Providers are only allowed to use cookies without consent if they are essential for the technical operation of a website or web service. For all other cookies, they need verifiable consent.

And this is where the problems begin. There are not only numerous providers of cookie-consent banners, including Usercentrics, but also many design options. This doesn’t make usage easy, and finding the desired consent can often turn into an unwanted cognitive challenge.

What do I have to click where to achieve my goal? The answer varies from website to website. Even for data protection experts, it’s not always immediately clear which button selects the desired option. They often need several clicks and, consequently, a lot of time. Individuals less familiar with the details quickly feel overwhelmed and annoyed.

Thus, there’s a risk that users, amidst this clutter, will voluntarily give up their right to a precise choice of stored data and choose the path of least resistance:

They click on “Accept All”.

Uniform User Guidance is Missing

While the legal framework for collecting and storing personal data is clearly defined by the GDPR, companies have some leeway in their design implementation, and this freedom is used very differently.

Sometimes, they deliberately manipulate colors and button positions to encourage visitors to give as many consents as possible – all legally. Many consent banners are designed so that all cookies can be approved with just one click.

Those who don’t want to accept certain cookies must click through the banner and look more closely. This takes time and patience.

A consistent user guide, which provides a reliable structure from the visitors’ perspective, could help. Then, for example, buttons would always be the same size, the same color, and in the same place. Everyone would know exactly where to click to get the desired data protection.

However, this is not expected. Neither will the legislators address this topic in the foreseeable future, nor will website operators agree on something like a voluntary commitment. The fundamental interests are too diverse.

Technical Tools Remain

There are already browser extensions that technically suppress cookie banners. While this can save you the hassle of clicking through, privacy is not adequately protected. Web offers might also not work completely if cookie banners are suppressed.

As a provider of a cookie solution that offers website operators a way to design their services in compliance with the GDPR, Usercentrics now complements its range with a technical solution for internet users.

With Usercentrics Data Shield, users can centrally define their data protection settings. The browser plugin then uses these default settings to automatically respond to cookie-consent banners on websites. In this way, privacy is maintained without users having to spend time and effort on it.

More information about Usercentrics Data Shield can be found here.