Those annoying website pop-ups about cookies — what should you do about them?
According to the California attorney general’s office, California residents have a right to know what personal information businesses collect about you, to have that information deleted, and to insist that your personal data not be sold. In addition, the attorney general says, “you also have the right to be notified, before or at the point businesses collect your personal information, of the types of personal information they are collecting and what they may do with that information.”
Consumers have been slow to exercise those rights. A survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau last year found that only 1% to 5% of web users were telling sites not to sell their data.
The low rate may reflect internet users’ desire not to disrupt the targeted advertising system that generates income for sites and supports many free services online. But it may also reflect confusion among consumers about what their options are, given the many different approaches that sites have taken to notify consumers about cookies and data tracking.
Sites that offer you the option to manage preferences typically allow you to grant or deny permission for various types of cookies — for example, “functional” cookies, “performance” cookies, “analytical” cookies, “marketing” cookies or “targeting” cookies. The types that raise the most immediate privacy issues are the ones involved in marketing or targeting, because they can be third-party cookies that track your behavior across the internet.
For sites that sell non-anonymized personal information to third parties, the pop-up notice should include a button or link that says, “Do Not Sell My Information.” California law requires data sellers to provide a “clear and conspicuous link” on their home pages to a web page that will allow you to block the sale of your information. For example, Tapatalk.com’s pop-up explains that California law allows consumers to opt out of the data sales, then offers two options: “Save and Exit” — presumably allowing the company to continue to sell your data — or “Do Not Sell My Info.”