German regulator hails Google’s ‘reject all’ cookie button plan –

Google’s plan to include a ‘reject all’ button on cookie banners after its existing policy breached EU law has been hailed by Hamburg’s top data protection officer, who presented his report d activity on Thursday (April 7). An article from EURACTIV Germany.

Google will probably first introduce such a button in France, which has already imposed fines on the American giant and Facebook, before launching it in Germany.

“Google has told us that they now want to establish this step-by-step ‘discard all’ button in the European Union, Switzerland and the United Kingdom,” the data protection commissioner said on Wednesday (April 6) and at Hamburg’s Freedom of Information, Thomas Fuchs, during a presentation of his Activity Report 2021.

Fuchs now plans to also approach Facebook, which, like Google, has its German headquarters in Hamburg, which puts the company under his responsibility.

Google’s decision comes in response to massive criticism and fines. The American giant’s previous argument that consenting to cookies with a single click requires much less effort than rejecting them does not comply with the requirements of data protection law.

Google has said that by 2023 it will discontinue the use of third-party cookies. Instead, the company is working on the Topics API, where no more data will be transferred to third-party providers or Google’s servers.

Data Protection Questions

Fuchs wrote to Google last week asking the company to revise its banner cookie policy for failing to comply with data protection requirements.

Pop-up cookie banners can be irritating to users who usually close them, implying consent. However, to opt out of tracking cookies, many selections must be made, which takes significantly longer.

“The good news is that there is now a written commitment from Google” to make a one-click button available by default, Fuchs also said.

French data protection authority CNIL previously fined Google 150 million euros and Facebook 60 million euros. “Refusing cookies must be as simple as accepting them”, according to the guiding principle of the CNIL.

Asked by EURACTIV, Google said it was determined to make further changes and actively cooperate with the CNIL.

Plans to phase out cookies

Google’s introduction of the “discard all” button will likely only be a stopgap solution, as the US giant already presented ambitious plans in late January to completely remove Google cookies from third-party providers by 2023.

Instead of cookies, the internet giant wants to rely on internal tracking technology for the Google Privacy Sandbox project.

Part of the Google Privacy Sandbox project is called the Topics API, where Chrome is supposed to log the five most important topics that match users’ interests each week. These topics are updated every seven days and historical data is deleted every three weeks.

Advertisers would be able to display advertising content based on the three main themes. According to Google, these preferences would be stored directly on the device, and therefore no data would be transmitted to third-party providers or Google’s servers. Users will be able to view, edit or completely disable their main themes.

The theme pool, currently under development, has entered a test phase. Starting March 31, developers can test the Topics API in the Canary version of Chrome. In Europe, users can register to take part in the tests.

Google plans to change its privacy policy – ​​also for Android – are feared by competitors as an exploitation of its dominant market position. The UK Competition and Markets Authority therefore launched an investigation last year to assess the possible impact of the new privacy settings on the advertising market.

As a result, Google made several commitments, such as refraining from listing itself and offering UK antitrust and data protection authorities regulatory oversight. The authority has accepted these commitments and will monitor their implementation.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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