How Cookie Walls Violate GDPR According to the DPA

Published in Member Communities on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Did you know that you may be in violation of GDPR? According to the DPA (Dutch Data Protection Authority), cookie walls are in violation of GDPR. Compliance can be tricky, but staying on top of the latest information will help keep your organization operating at the highest level of security. Here’s what you need to know about GDPR violations from the security experts at VGM Technologies.

The Importance of GDPR Compliance

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect as of 2018 in the European Union. It mandates that personal data be stored, processed, collected and destroyed safely. Personal data is defined by GDPR as anything that can identify a person. This could be anything as basic as a screen name on social media.

It’s important for organizations outside of the US to be GDPR compliant, because as many have realized, technology is global. US-based companies can still be held liable to GDPR if they handle personal data of a person living in the EU. The financial penalties are severe for noncompliance and this is why it’s important to make sure you are adhering to GDPR regulations. Our cybersecurity vendor partner, ProCircular recently released a very informative article about Regulatory Trends in Privacy and Cybersecurity in 2019. Take a look at their article to get a big picture look of how GDPR fits into privacy and cybersecurity.

What is a cookie wall?

It’s not as great or delicious as it sounds. A cookie wall is when a website requires users to agree to cookie tracking before they can use the website. If you’ve gone onto an advanced website lately, you have probably seen a pop up immediately show on the home page. It asks to accept the use of cookies before allowing you to interact with the site. It seeks to track user behavior on the site so ads can be retargeted to them based on browsing habits.

The DPA’s Stance on Cookie Walls

The DPA has made a firm stance that a cookie wall is not compliant, because it almost always requires a user to select “yes” before continuing using the website. This denies the site visitor to utilize the website without allowing their information to be tracked. The European Data Protection Board states, “In order for consent to be freely given as required by the GDPR, access to services and functionalities must not be made conditional.” However, the DPA says that some cookie pop-ups are less intrusive and do not break GDPR. For example, if a website needs to access cookies in order to provide a service directly asked for by the user or to carry out information, it is allowable.

Additionally, once this information is gathered, companies need to be held accountable for securing the information they collect. As of now, the DPA’s stance is only a statement and not an official ruling. However, we are fairly certain that it will be.

Stay ahead of the GDPR curve. Talk to us about Website Protection to make sure your site is secure and GDPR compliant.


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