Are you tired of navigating confusing cookie consent popups just to browse the web privately? Fortunately, Danish academics from Aarhus University have developed a browser plugin that does the rejection for you.
Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and other chromium-based browsers, as well as Safari for macOS and iOS, all support Consent-O-Matic for free. Before the browser extension was made accessible to the general public, it had 22,000 test users worldwide.
Clemens Nylandsted Klokmose, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and a Consent-O-Matic developer, explained how it works in a statement: “We manually study a pop-up to see how it is constructed, and then we write the code to click on buttons and checkboxes.” We will always attempt to submit the privacy-preserving options, but occasionally a website may have handled things differently. Consent-O-Matic may not be able to recognize websites that utilize pop-ups that we haven’t yet seen.
Anyone interested in taking a look at or contributing additional pop-up rule ideas can do so because the Consent-O-Matic code is open-source and available on Github.
Even while this is amazing, it’s awful that the program is even necessary. “People should have control over their personal data, but it’s challenging because of the way these consent pop-ups are made. It’s simpler to simply press the big green button, according to Midas Nouwens, a Consent-O-Matic developer and assistant professor in the Department of Digital Design & Information Studies. “Clicking through multiple screens and adjusting hundreds of sliders for each website you visit becomes tiresome and annoying,” he added. We created Consent-O-Matic to make it as simple as possible for people to exercise their digital rights.
In fact, Nouwens co-authored a 2020 study that outlines the frequently dubious methods used by consent management companies (CMPs).
The authors argue that the findings of their empirical study on CMPs “illustrate the extent to which illegal activities already prevail, with vendors of CMPs turning a blind eye to – or worse, incentivizing – blatantly illegal setups of their systems.” “This neighborhood desperately needs more enforcement.”
The authors write, “A major conclusion from the user study is that placing controls or information below the top layer renders it effectively ignored. Interface designs that try to steer end-users into intended behavior through malevolent interaction flows are referred to as ‘black patterns’.”
OneTrust LLC received a patent on September 6, 2022, for “Data processing systems and methods for detecting tools for the automatic blockage of consent requests,” suggesting that CMPs are already taking notice and attempting to fight back.
“The patent is quite amusing. It seems to be based on the notion that a refusal of consent must adhere to the same strict requirements as a grant of consent. Michael Veale, a professor of digital rights and privacy at UCL Laws, told Motherboard that this is absolutely untrue. Additionally, the law on data protection expressly recognizes that a person “may exercise his or her right to object through automated means using technical specifications.”
According to Veale, “the entire ad tech industry’s approach over the past few years has been to try and misread regulation to make consent seem like a joke.” “This is not consent, and such activities are unlawful in and of themselves, according to the law. Finally, data protection authorities are becoming aware of it.
It’s more crucial than ever to educate yourself on cybersecurity and take precautions in a world where personal data can be sold up to 987 times each day in split-second ad auctions.