5 Reasons Why Cookies Regulation Is Important For Privacy Protection

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Regulating Cookies To Ensure Secure Surfing

Pardon my sweet tooth, we are going to talk about cookies and their regulations. Cookies know a lot. They are that ‘fly on the wall’ watching all your moves online. They observe, record, store, and report, but only if you consent. You have the right to choose what cookies to get, what they can do, and what they can record. As sweet as cookies can be in your online experience, they can leave you vulnerable to those with malicious intent.

The choice we make on cookies to accept is mostly driven by the knowledge of who is collecting our data and why they want it. We wittingly accept cookie tracking if we are aware of where they come from and what they do. It boils down to the choice of the cookie’s provenance—a choice of first vs third party cookies.

The reason every website seems to be offering a cookie jar for you to accept or decline is, that there are regulations in place that govern these cyber-streets. The internet is not the wild West. Online businesses would love to collect as much information as they could about your browsing journey. Cookie regulations keep these businesses in check. Without these regulations, businesses are more likely to steal and misuse data without consequences.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) issued in the ePrivacy Directive regulates how cookies are stored in your device and how they operate. The regulations are commonly referred to as the Cookie Law. The cookie law protects your personal and browsing data. As the cookies are evolving with time, so are the rules regulating the Cookie Law.


Does it matter?

In the modern age, privacy has become one of the most important human rights. Privacy supports human dignity, freedom of association, and freedom of speech. Information privacy involves the establishment of rules and regulations governing the collection and handling of personal data.

Data privacy, concerning cookies, is all about the rights of individuals, and the purpose of data collection and processing. It focuses on individual privacy preferences, and the way organizations manage the personal data of individuals. It governs how organizations or individuals collect, store, process, share and delete personal data following regulations.

Inappropriate cookie tracking is not something only small businesses do. Large corporations and governments leverage the power of cookies to invade our privacy. On December 31st, the French data protection regulator sanctioned Facebook and Google for millions for non-compliance with cookie regulations.

Your right to privacy cross paths with other human rights such as the freedom of association freedom of expression, the right to seek, receive and impart information, and assembly. Our right to our privacy is a basic human right. Abusing human rights brings costly consequences to an organization

Selecting “Accept” or “Decline” on a cookie consent pop-up might seem like an unnecessary bother, but that is the most important step to take towards securing your privacy online. Some web browsers have settings to automatically accept cookies, and you can change these settings to automatically decline.

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Let us look at why there are regulations for cookies and why it’s a good idea to consent to them for your privacy protection.


1. Keeps you in the loop

Cookie regulations ensure that you are informed of the existence of any cookies on your device and their activity. These regulations require website owners to define the type of cookie they are offering.

To keep you in the loop, the cookie policies require website owners need to inform you of how they will be using your personal data. They also require them to disclose what type of data they are collecting, how long they will store your data, and if they are going to give your data to any other third party. Website owners also need to list down all third-party recipients of your personal information.

The regulations ensure that cookies will only collect the data that you consented to, and nothing more.

The regulations also ensure that you are informed of your information rights and how to exercise them. Not everyone can recite their information rights without a quick Google search. The regulations put the onus on the cookie owner to inform you about the privacy rights you have to your information.

When you check the cookies running on your browser, you should be able to identify every cookie and its host. You should also know what information each cookie is gathering or storing.

The regulations mandates organizations or business to complete the collected data at your request if you find it to be incomplete or inaccurate. You also have the right to ask for the complete deletion of this data.

Knowledge of the personal information that an organization is keeping puts you in a position to challenge the accuracy of the data. To exercise this right, you must inform the organization of your intent to challenge the data. You must state clearly what you think is incorrect or incomplete and suggest how it should be corrected.


2. You can limit access to your data

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The regulations on cookies ensure that you have the right to limit access to your data and set limits to the way websites use your personal data. You can exercise this right if you are concerned with the amount of data being gathered. You can also put a cap on cookie activity if you are worried about how the website is using the data collected.

Cookie regulations also give you the right to object to using your data for direct marketing. This does not mean the organization will delete your data. They will still keep your data but will not use it for the purposes you do not approve.

Regulations require website owners to allow visitors to have access to the personal information they gathered on them. This is important to check for accuracy and completeness.

The Cookie Law also allows you to raise a complaint about the way an organization is handling your information. You can raise a complaint if you think the organization does not securely store your data or is disclosing your information without consent. You also have the right to raise a complaint with an organization if you think they have kept your information longer than is necessary or are using your information for undisclosed uses.


3. You can request the data at any time

The cookie regulations ensure that organizations store your data in a portable format. You have the right to request the organizations to produce the cookie-recorded data in a format that an ordinary device can read.

You can also request the organization storing your data to send it to another organization.

If you accept that an organization captures your data and tracks your online journey, it only makes sense that you should be able to request this information at any time. Cookie regulations require cookie owners to store data in simple readable formats like a CSV file

The regulations state that subjects to data gathering have a right to receive personal data which concerns them. You have the right to access this data at any time, provided in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format.


4. You can purge the data at any time

Cookie regulations state that the usage of data collected online must be reflected in the privacy policy. This is a separate document from the other terms and conditions agreement that the organization might have.

There comes a time when a cookie keeps storing your data past the accepted dateline. Sometimes you just want to get out of an agreement made with a cookie.

Perhaps you changed your mind about letting a cookie follow you around the internet. Maybe you mistakenly accepted cookies when you didn’t mean to. Thanks to cookie regulations, you have the right to delete all the information the website captured.

You may want to stop a website from collecting your information when the use of your data is no longer necessary for the earlier agreed-on purposes. The only authority website that relies on to collect and process the data is your consent. You have the right to withdraw that consent.

The internet is a valuable source of information and empowerment for children. Children have a heightened vulnerability to cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, and violations of their privacy in unregulated cyberspace. Regulators need to govern the information collected on children and its handling.

The regulations give children special protection online. This is because they may be less aware of the risks and consequences of giving their data to websites. The organization might have collected your data when you were a child. As an adult, you can still have this data erased.


5. Prevents machine learning algorithms from creating the wrong personas about you

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Machine learning and big data analytics in the profiling of online accounts have created the need for businesses to collect data. Your personal data is a goldmine. Even if you have not directly visited a webpage, businesses collect your data from well-managed APIs.

With the advancements in Artificial Intelligence, cookies collect data used to build online personas. Personal data is used to analyze and predict such things as your performance at work, personal preferences, financial situation, or health.

When artificial intelligence and algorithms use biased historical data that cookies collect, their account profiling predictions are not always going to be accurate. They are not immune to errors in their decision-making. Prejudices of their programmers, false logic, and skewed input data will make artificial intelligence reproduces human biases.

Cookie regulations require website owners to inform people if they will be subject to a decision that will be made by machine learning Artificial Intelligence. Website owners must inform visitors of the type of information they will gather to input into the Artificial Intelligence profiling machine. This may be important if Artificial Intelligence will be relied upon to make decisions that affect your important life issues.

Artificial Intelligence decisions made on your behalf without any human intervention may affect your legal rights. These decisions may also lead to your automatic refusal of an online credit application. E-recruiting practices regularly use Artificial Intelligence to sort through candidates for successful applicants.

In 2018, Amazon stopped using artificial intelligence in its recruitment process. They had discovered that was bias against women. Amazon had realized its system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way. It had taught itself that male candidates were preferable.

Cookie regulations ensure that you have the provision to object to profiling by these automated systems.

The Cookie Law mandates organizations to tell you why artificial intelligence gets to decide. The law mandates organizations to disclose how the decision will affect them. It also mandates them to inform you that you have a right to request human intervention, express your view and object to the decision.


Cookie regulations matter when it comes to your privacy protection

Cookies are good. A personalized online experience has proven to be revolutionary both for website owners and visitors. The power to have insights into your customers’ preferences and interests in the field of e-commerce is a marketer’s dream.

For website visitors, the ability to return to a website and not have to re-enter your password or customize your preferences again has increased efficiency. Getting recommendations for content tailored to your interests is mind-blowing.

These revolutionary experiences should not come at the expense of human rights to privacy. There are restrictions on how cookies operate, and rightfully so. Organizations can be very invasive into our personal lives if left unchecked. The regulations are there to ensure that both parties can safely experience the perks of using cookies.

Privacy enforcement goes beyond regulatory enforcement. To some extent, we are all tasked to enforce privacy. You can play an important role in combatting the intrusions upon privacy by governments, intelligence agencies, and big companies. All it takes is for you to spend some time reading that cookie consent pop-up before accepting.

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