Why do so many websites warn me about cookies?
A couple of examples:
But why do so many sites warn you about this?
Well, it's because of a legal directive passed by the European Union in 2002 called the "ePrivacy Directive" (it's technically not a law). One of the many guidelines it laid down was that websites had to obtain explicit consent from their visitors that it was ok to store cookies on their computer; they could no longer just set cookies without asking.
Because it's a European directive, it only applies to sites based in the European Union; not sites in America or anywhere else.
What does the warning actually do?
The warning is supposed to alert you that the website you're visiting will store cookies on your device. Some websites include an option to control what kinds of cookies will be allowed from that site, letting you choose to only accept cookies required for basic functionality, or to also accept cookies which are related to advertising or tracking.
Because these cookie warnings seem to be everywhere and because most people don't really understand cookies anyway, the cookie warnings actually seem to have a bit of a negative effect; you could argue that really what it's doing is training people to just click "Accept" on something that they really don't understand.
The right idea though...
Consumers are rightfully getting more and more concerned about their privacy and the ways their data is used on the internet and in the world in general, so we understand the European Union wanting to try to do something to help users.
The problem with the cookie warnings is that it's not telling you anything you don't know already;
A better solution
If you're genuinely concerned about being tracked online, the better thing to do is install a web browser extension which protects your privacy by blocking the tracking cookies in the first place! You can also read our series of guides to improving your online privacy.
Hiding the warnings
There's a fantastic browser extension to getting rid of those annoying cookie warnings. Check out the appropriately named "I don't care about cookies" extension!
We tested it out and don't think we saw a single cookie warning for the whole week - very nice. Note that it will explicitly allow the site you're visiting to set cookies, as if you had clicked the "Accept" button. So it's probably a good idea to also install a privacy extension too, to prevent tracking cookies from being set. The two extensions go hand-in-hand with each other. It's available for most browsers that support addons/extensions, so check it out if you're sick of those annoying warnings.
Here are some great articles and blog posts about the cookie warnings.
- Wikipedia: Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive 2002
- GDPR.eu: Cookies, the GDPR, and the ePrivacy Directive
- Cookiebot.com: EU cookie law - a right to privacy
- The full text of the directive
- TechCrunch: ePrivacy: An overview of Europe’s other big privacy rule change
- TechCrunch: Most EU cookie ‘consent’ notices are meaningless or manipulative, study finds
- GDPR: Cookies, notifications and consent – a 2019 update
We hope you understand more about why you're seeing these warnings everywhere.