How to Avoid Cookie Pop-Ups and Protect Your Privacy

How to Avoid Cookie Pop-Ups and Protect Your Privacy

Cookies are a necessary part of the web, but they can also be a privacy nightmare.

Do you ever feel like your personal information is constantly being sold or stored on a public server? With online data breaches becoming increasingly frequent, it’s important to protect your digital privacy—including avoiding pesky cookie pop-ups. 

What are cookies?

Cookie pop-ups are notifications that request your permission to track your data on a website. They typically include an “Accept” or “Decline” option. However, allowing cookies may come with the risk of losing your data privacy. While cookies are generally harmless, they can be used to track your visits across websites and monitor the items you click on. Here are some common reasons websites use cookies to track your activity:

  • To customize users’ online experience—many retailers use cookies to keep track of the items you’ve clicked on, the items in your shopping cart and the products you’ve purchased in the past. 
  • To remember past stories you’ve read—a news website you view daily can use cookie data to suggest other articles of your interest.
  • To record your username and password—so they fill them in automatically when you visit their login page. 

Where it all began

The introduction of these cookie banners was largely due to two laws in Europe: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a comprehensive data privacy law implemented in the European Union in May 2018, and the ePrivacy Directive, initially enacted in 2002 and revised in 2009. The privacy law ensures that people are aware of the data companies are collecting from them and allows them to agree or disagree to share it. Companies must be open about the data they collect and its purpose. And everyone has the right to view, control and delete all their personal data. 

Breaching this law could result in penalties, as was the case with Google and Facebook who were charged a total of EUR210 million (US$237 million) in January 2022 by France’s National Commission for Information Technology and Freedom (CNIL) due to their tricky cookie practices. According to CNIL, these sites make it difficult to deny cookies but easy to accept them with just one click.

Although these cookie notifications are meant to protect your privacy, they can be annoying and intrusive. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can avoid them and still keep your privacy intact.

Use a cookie pop-up blocker

One of the easiest ways to avoid cookie pop-ups is to use a cookie popup blocker. These are browser extensions that block all cookie notifications from appearing on your screen. They work by detecting when a website is trying to track your activity with cookies and then preventing it from doing so. This means you won’t have to worry about seeing intrusive pop-ups or having your data collected without your knowledge. 

I don’t care about cookies, Hush and Ninja Cookie are some of the popular cookie blockers. I don’t care about cookies is compatible with Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Opera, while Hush is designed for Safari on Macs, iPhones and iPads. Ninja Cookie works with Chrome, Edge, Opera and Firefox.

Go for a privacy-focused browser

If you’re not comfortable with websites tracking your behavior, you may want to consider using a privacy-focused browser like Mozilla Firefox and Brave. These browsers have built-in features that block tracking cookies and other intrusive technologies. 

Introduced by Mozilla Firefox in February 2021, the Total Cookie Protection feature prevents cookies from being used to keep tabs on you while you browse the internet. Cookies are confined to the site you’re on so third parties cannot track you from one site to another using the same tracking beacons. Firefox users who receive the prompt may activate the “turn on Total Cookie Protection” button to add the protective feature to the browser. 

Another privacy-focused browser Brave blocks trackers and third-party cookies that monitor your web activity. It also gives you control over what you want to block, like ads, cookies, Facebook login buttons and Google login buttons.

Disable cookies in browser settings

Alternatively, you can disable cookies in your browser settings. This will stop websites from storing cookies on your computer. However, it will also prevent you from using many of the features on websites that rely on cookies, like staying logged in or remembering your preferences. 

When you try to change your browser cookie setting, you might come across the following two terms—first-party and third-party cookies. First-party cookies are created by the website you visit. They can be used to store things like preferences and settings. Third-party cookies are made by advertisers or other websites that display content on the page you’re viewing. For example, if you’re looking at a page with a video from YouTube, you may also have a third-party cookie from YouTube. These cookies can be used to track your activity across different websites for advertising purposes

If you’re using Chrome on a desktop, you can block third-party cookies by going to “Settings” and “Cookies” and checking the option under “Cookies and other site data”. Similarly, if you’re using Mozilla Firefox or Safari, you can disable third-party cookies by going into your browser’s settings and changing the privacy options. 

By disabling cookies, you can prevent these companies from tracking your activity and displaying targeted ads. If you’re concerned about privacy, you can delete cookies that have already been stored on your computer by clearing your browser’s cache. 

Cookie pop-ups should always be avoided if you value your online safety and privacy, so keep the tips we have provided in mind when navigating the internet. You can also opt for reputable third-party tools to help block cookies as well as use your browser’s private mode. By following these steps, you will be able to stay safe and protect your data while browsing websites that might otherwise not respect your right to privacy.

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Header image courtesy of Pexels


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