Google gives Europe a ‘discard all’ button to track cookies after watchdog fines

Google is introducing new options to reject tracking cookies in Europe after its existing dialogs were found to violate European data laws.

Earlier this year, the French data protection agency CNIL fined Google 150 million euros ($170 million) for using confusing language in cookie banners. Previously, Google allowed users to accept all tracking cookies with a single click, but required users to click through different menus to reject them all. This asymmetry was illegal, the CNIL said, prompting users to accept cookies for the ultimate benefit of Google’s advertising business.

To remedy this, Google’s new cookie banners offer clear and balanced choices: “reject all”, “accept all” or “more options” (for more granular control). The new menu will appear on Google Search and YouTube if users are not logged into an account. (If you’re signed in, you can adjust tracking options through Google’s Data & Privacy menu.)

The new cookie banner offers users the option to reject all tracking cookies with a single click.
Image: Google

“We’ve kicked off the launch in France and will expand that experience to the rest of the European Economic Area, the UK, and Switzerland,” Google Product Manager Sammit Adhya wrote in a blog post announcing the changes. “Soon, users in the region will have a new cookie choice, which can be accepted or rejected with a single click.”

Using cookie banners in general remains a confusing and frustrating experience for most internet users. Giving people the option to refuse or accept cookies was supposed to provide greater control over user data, but as the Google example shows, this may depend on how those options are implemented. The European Center for Digital Rights (noyb), which campaigns for proper cookie menus, says that 90% of users click to accept all cookies, but only 3% actually want them. Changes like those implemented by Google are certainly small, but could help shift this balance.


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