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Google to update cookie consent banner in Europe following fine

Google has shared a screenshot of its new cookie consent popup. At first, the new popup will be available on YouTube in France. But the company says it plans to roll out the new design across Google services in Europe.

This updated design comes a few months after the CNIL, France’s data watchdog, fined Google €150 million ($163 million at today’s exchange rate) for breaching French law. According to the French authority, Google failed to comply with current regulation when it comes to presenting tracking choices to users — what people usually call the “cookie banner” or “cookie popup”.

Without further ado, here’s the new design that is progressively being rolled out:

Image Credits: Google

And here’s what it currently looks like:

Image Credits: Google

The text has been updated. More importantly, the choices at the bottom of the screen are radically different. With the old design, users had two options — “I Agree” and “Customize”.

If you clicked on “Customize”, Google would take you to a separate webpage with several options. In order to disable all personalization settings, you had to click on “off” three times and then confirm.

With the new design, there are now three buttons. In addition to the existing buttons, there’s a new “Deny All” button that lets you opt out of tracking altogether in a single click. The two main buttons are the same color, size and shape.

Following the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), online services have to obtain clear consent from its users before it can process data. In particular, consent must be informed, specific and freely given in order for it to be obtained legally.

When it comes to the French fine specifically, the CNIL is leveraging the ePrivacy Directive, transposed in the French Data Protection Act, to justify that it is a competent authority to verify and sanction operations related to cookies.

“The CNIL has received many complaints about the way cookies can be refused on the websites and,” the CNIL wrote in a press release back in January. “In June 2021, the CNIL carried out an online investigation on these websites and found that, while they offer a button allowing immediate acceptance of cookies, the sites do not implement an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the user to refuse the deposit of cookies equally easily. Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them.”

While Google doesn’t mention the sanction directly in its blog post, the updated design seems to be a result of the CNIL’s investigation.

“Following conversations and in accordance with specific directives from the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), we carried out a complete overhaul of our approach. In particular, we have changed the infrastructure we use to manage cookies,” Google wrote.

After rolling out the updated popup on YouTube in France, the company plans to use the same design for its search engine as well. It’ll go live in France, but also across the European Economic Area, the U.K. and Switzerland.

And yet, many users simply won’t see the updated popup. If you’re already logged in a Google account, Google doesn’t need to get your consent as your settings are already stored in your profile page. Moreover, if you’re using Google Chrome, chances are your web browser is tied to your Google account if you ever logged into a Google service in the past.

In other words, users who don’t have a Google account will have more options. And if you have a Google account, I encourage you to review your privacy settings.

France fines Google $120M and Amazon $42M for dropping tracking cookies without consent