Thursday, October 11, 2018

The battle for 'cookies' reaches the European Parliament

The battle for 'cookies' reaches the European Parliament

Critics warn that the new regulation favors the Internet giants against sectors such as advertising or the media

   Brussels is debating on Monday the regulation on the protection of the confidentiality of communications in Europe, a project that works as a complement to the recently approved General Data Protection Regulation . The text, dubbed 'ePrivacy' , will enter into force in the European Union on May 25, 2018 and is one of the most ambitious legislation on data protection.

In general, the regulation 'ePrivacy' analyzed by the Ministers of Telecommunications of the European Union is aimed at the protection of privacy in electronic communications and establishes the need for the user to grant an explicit consent so that their data can be shared. Internet browsing , a measure that seeks to solve the security and confidentiality problems detected in the Internet browsing of individuals.

    In this sense, the new regulation puts the focus on the use of 'cookies' , some files that create web pages and that store information about the user's behavior on said page. These data are those that allow you to better know the audience that each page has and try to offer each user content or advertising in a personalized way.

Currently, for the 'cookies' to be installed, the user must give an express consent each time he navigates so that these data are collected. This is the information box that appears when we access a web page and a message appears on the screen: «This website uses its own and third-party cookies to optimize your browsing, adapt to your preferences and perform analytical tasks. By continuing browsing, you accept our cookies policy ».

However, this system does not fully comply with the security and privacy objective that it seeks, mainly because the user is overwhelmed by the consent requests and ends up accepting the installation of all the 'cookies', even the most aggressive ones, in order to be able to navigate from one web to another without interruptions.

With the new regulation, the user can choose in the browser what level of tracking they want to allow, so that it will only be necessary to authorize the use of 'cookies' once, when they connect for the first time with the browser.

The other side of 'ePrivacy'

The measure, which seeks to protect the security and privacy of the user and also simplify the process, is observed with suspicion by some sectors of the Internet. According to Pierre Chappaz, CEO of Teads, with the new regulation the option to reject the 'cookies' will come by default in the browsers, with which it is highly unlikely that the user will voluntarily make the opposite choice, that is, accept the cookies'. "If the current version of ePrivacy is approved, it will bring about the almost complete disappearance of 'cookies' in Europe," warns Chappaz.

According to this expert, the "respectable intentions of the project", which tries to protect users' data about their browsing history on the Internet, however, is "a decisive and unprecedented advantage in terms of collecting personal data for the known group GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) ". As explained, in order to use the services of this group, the user must identify himself, provide his data and accept the rules and conditions of the service, which include authorizing the collection and processing of personal data. However, this type of services does not need 'cookies', which would not affect the 'ePrivacy' regulation. " Google,"

In this way, the measure would favor Internet giants to the detriment of other sectors such as advertising or digital media. According to Chappaz, "the business model of the media relies largely on advertising and its ability to reach segmented audiences, so eliminating 'cookies' would put the media financing model at risk. " He also warns that "in the era of false news, the existence of independent, reliable and economically viable means should be a priority for the European Union, but the 'ePrivacy' regulation goes exactly in the opposite direction: it would reserve access to diversified and professional information only to those paying subscribers, leaving the free internet under the absolute control of the giants of Internet with headquarters in EE UU ".

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