December 2, 2022

TheCyberThrone

Thinking Security ! Always

CookieEnforcer Extension

Academics from Wisconsin-Madison combining with Google have developed a new web browser  extension that rejects cookie consent pop-ups automatically.

The CookieEnforcer extension navigates through the menus that conceal the option to reject non-essential cookies on the user’s behalf. The extension analyzes the rendering pattern of HTML elements to identify cookie notices, before mapping out the necessary sequence of clicks. An evaluation of its accuracy found the extension to be effective in 91% of cases.

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On lighter side, Google argue that tracking technologies prop up business models that guarantee universal access to web services and content. But on the darker side there is a belief that our privacy is too great a price to pay, and that there are ways to replumb the economic engine of the web.

In an effort to increase the level of transparency around data collection practices, regulations like GDPR were implemented across the world, requiring websites to request explicit consent from the user. But whether these rules resulted in a net gain from a privacy perspective is unclear.

Cookie notices inform users about the type of cookies the website maintains, their purpose and, the options to control them. In their current forms, cookie notices suffer from usability issues. Prior work has shown that these notices use dark patterns to manipulate users into making website-friendly choices which put users’ privacy at risk.

Researchers statement
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Facebook and Google were slapped with million-euro fines by the French data protection regulator over precisely this practice, which makes the latter’s participation in the development of CookieEnforcer. It also eliminates the friction associated with locating the option to reject third-party cookies.

The extension is not yet publicly available. The research team says it is preparing a general release, but has not yet offered a specific timeline.

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