Cookie consent banners are one of the most annoying parts of the browsing experience. They pop up on almost every website. It also doesn’t help that most of us don’t really know what we are consenting to. Of course, I have done my fair bit to educate my readers on the privacy intrusions of Third-Party Cookies but it is an uphill battle. Third Party Cookies are simply too essential to the whole ‘search-advertisement’ complex.
Fortunately, there are those still fighting the good fight to reclaim back the internet. Among them is a list of browsers committed to ceding as little privacy as there is to Third Party intrusions. Brave browser has long been at the forefront of this movement.
Having been first conceived as a privacy-focused platform, it automatically blocks online advertisements and website trackers in its default settings. In addition to that, Brave browser is now set to start blocking cookie consent notifications on Android and Desktop.
In a blog post written by Brave Software Senior Director of Privacy, Peter Snyder he details new and upcoming features that would make this colossal feat possible. Cookie consent blocking will be available with the current Brave Nightly and in the coming version 1.45 when it releases in October.
Upon launching, the browser will give you the option of choosing to enable the feature. If enabled, the Brave will download a set of rules designed to block and hide cookie consent notifications. These rules will start applying soon as they are allowed.
How exactly does Brave manage to do seemingly the almost impossible?
Peter Snyder details two primary ways:
Block Cookie Banners
This also involves hiding and modifying pages so as to remove any additional annoyance such as preventing scrolling and overlays. According to Peter, this approach is supposed to provide the strongest privacy guarantees.
“It doesn’t require trusting that the cookie consent systems will respect your choice, and prevents your browser from needing to communicate with consent-tracking systems at all.”
Trust and Work with Cookie Banners
Alternatively, one could just click “no” in cookie-banner systems. Brave automates this process for every banner pop-up thus reducing the number of cookies sent. This approach also has the additional benefit of recording your preference with the cookie banner providers.
Despite these, and additional measures taken by Brave to keep ahead of trackers, Peter warns that Google has been making its measures more difficult. Features such as WebBundles and Manifest v3 make it easier for sites to evade content blockers. Even the company’s Privacy Sandbox proposal which was supposedly aimed at improving ‘user privacy’ does anything but. It “gives users less control–and sites more control–over how people use and experience the Web.”
Of course, Google’s action or lack thereof in improving internet privacy should come as no surprise. Given that the company’s main source of income is by selling user data to Third Party vendors we shouldn’t expect the search giant to do anything that would harm its cash cow.
Any measure touted to be more ‘privacy-friendly’ by the company is just paying lip service to the problem. The truth is that Google has no intention of disrupting its billion-dollar ad industry. And, just like any other company, they will fight tooth and nail to preserve the status quo.
However, the web is built to be open and does not to any single entity. No matter how big Google and other tech companies are, the user should always come first. This is why we should welcome and encourage any effort to claim back any ounce of privacy for users worldwide.