Google will introduce changes to the way it handles cookies for users living in the European Union (EU) in order to better comply with guidance from regulators, the company said on Thursday. Google will display an updated cookie banner — a requirement for all websites serving users in the EU — informing users how cookies are used, adding a new button to quickly reject all non-essential cookies. The changes will affect all users in the EU accessing the company’s search engine and video sharing platform YouTube, according to the company
In a blog post explaining the changes to its cookie banner, Google says that regulators including data protection authorities in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK have updated their guidance for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that deals with the handling of personal information of EU residents. The company says it has worked with France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) to fully redesign its approach to handling cookies on YouTube and on its search engine.
Websites that serve users in the EU are expected to display a banner detailing the cookies are used on the website and offer users the ability to accept cookies that can be used for various purposes, including measurement of ads, showing personalised content and ads, and track users across websites. While many websites (including Google) display these banners, it is quite a tedious process to reject non-essential cookies from websites. Users who browse a lot in Incognito mode (or Private Browing mode on Firefox) are shown the cookie banner on every visit, leading to the creation of browser extensions like I don’t care about cookies.
After overhauling its cookie consent banner, Google will now offer users the ability to click a Reject all button, next to the original Accept all button. Users can also refine their choices by clicking on the More options button, according to Google. The new banner experience began rolling out to users in France earlier this month, and will soon be available to all users living in the European Economic Area, the UK, and Switzerland, according to Google.
According to the company, modifying the way its cookie consent banner works required “deep, coordinated changes” to critical Google infrastructure. Noting that the changes will impact content creators and websites, Google says that the updated design is in compliance with the regulatory guidance, and the company will continue work on its Privacy Sandbox (previously known as FLoC, or federated learning of cohorts) technology that is touted to be a more privacy respecting solution to third party cookies and tracking on Chrome and Android — but there’s no word on when that technology will be launched by the company.