UK targets 'endless' cookie pop-ups in data shake-up

UK targets ‘endless’ cookie pop-ups in data shake-up

Britain on Thursday announced a “shake-up” of its data rules, including plans to eliminate “endless” website pop-ups asking for permission to store user information, potentially putting it on collision course with the European Union.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden told The Daily Telegraph that “high risk” sites would still need to ask users for permission to store “cookies” of their personal information, but that the pop-up requests were “pointless” for most websites.

The pop-ups are largely implemented to deal with European Union data law aimed at protecting people’s online privacy.

Dowden said that reform of data protection rules was “one of the big prizes” of leaving the bloc.

“There’s an awful lot of needless bureaucracy and box ticking and actually we should be looking at how we can focus on protecting people’s privacy but in as light a touch way as possible,” he said.

The European Union last year agreed to formally recognise Britain’s data protection standards, allowing the continued flow of personal data across borders.

The European Commission warned on Thursday that any changes could affect that agreement, however.

“We… monitor very closely any developments related to the UK data protection rules,” said commission spokesman Christian Wigand.

“In case of problematic developments that negatively affect the level of protection…, the adequacy decision can be suspended, terminated or amended at any time,” he added.

“This can be done immediately in case of justified urgency.”

The plans are part of a wider push by the British government to harness data.

“Data underpins innovation and the global digital economy,” the government said in a statement announcing the reforms.

“It allows businesses to trade, drives international investment, supports law enforcement agencies tackling crime, the delivery of critical public services and health and scientific research.”

As part of its plans, the government said it hoped to secure “new multi-billion pound” global data partnerships with the United States, Australia and South Korea.

It also announced John Edwards, currently New Zealand’s privacy commissioner, as its preferred new Information Commissioner to oversee the shake-up. © Agence France-Presse

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