Privacy Alerts and Cookies: 10 things to know when browsing the web

8 February, 2021

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We all know that computers, laptops and MacBooks are essentials to use for day to day work. Most of the people mainly use it to access the Internet for various reasons. Despite what can be thought, no one is protected or control of his data on the Internet. Hackers, government spies, web giants, and major retailers are snapping up this data considered the black gold of the 21st century.

Faced with this, the National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) placed a general regulation on data protection in Europe and the UK in 2016. This notably aims to ensure that website editors obtain the agreement of their users in the context of data collection. Since then, pop-ups and other banners called “privacy alerts” have appeared all over the web to collect your authorization and thus your data. But what about these privacy alerts? What happens if we refuse to collect data? Can VPNs keep your data safe? Here are ten things to know when browsing the web.

Privacy alerts and cookies: 10 things to know when browsing the web

1: Privacy alert and cookie

The purpose of the privacy alert is to ask you for permission to publish cookies or not. Today almost all websites use cookies, or trackers, which allow you to assign an advertising profile. These have a lifespan of 13 months, after which the web publisher must collect your consent again.

2: How does a cookie work?

When you click on “Ok” and authorize your data collection, the website places a text file, called a cookie, on your hard drive. This cookie contains information about your browsing. Options, preferences, passwords, the main goal is to avoid having to enter everything each time you return to the site. But over the years its use has been diverted for commercial purposes.

3: Data collection is nothing new

While privacy alerts are relatively recent, information gathering is not. This cookie system has existed since the beginning of the Internet. Before the GDPR, websites were allowed to collect your data because consent was considered “unmistakably given “. In other words, you agreed without knowing it.

4: Cookie authorization only concerns a specific type of data

This authorization is mandatory for audience cookies which are used for advertising in particular. These allow you to follow your browsing on the site, analyze your consumption habits, etc. The goal is to target you to offer you advertising tailored to your profile.

5: Refusing cookies does not mean avoiding advertising

Very often, cookies are criticized for their link with advertising. But allowing cookies does not mean allowing advertising, it just allows you to personalize the latter. By refusing cookies you will therefore receive advertising, but it will be non-personalized.

6: Cookies also have positive sides

Refusing articles may prevent you from thoroughly enjoying the content. In fact, by avoiding audience measurement and personalization cookies, you control the algorithm from offering you content tailored to your areas of interest.

7: Refusing cookies should not prevent you from freely browsing the site

Website publishers have moved from an obligation to provide information on cookies to a deficit of consent. However, refusing cookies must not have any consequences on access to the content of the site.

8: Despite your refusal, some sites still place a cookie

The GDPR requires all site publishers to offer the choice of authorizing or refusing the collection of data. It is a compliance obligation imposed by the CNIL, but the latter still has some difficulties verifying the correct implementation of the process. According to a barometer carried out by the company Empiric, 56% of sites would even deposit a cookie despite the user’s refusal.

9: VPN and privacy

The VPN, or virtual private network, is one of the only tools capable of guaranteeing respect for your confidentiality and protecting your data on the web. Indeed, it allows you to encrypt your internet browsing and hide your IP address. It is, therefore, impossible to know who you are or what you do.

10: Browsing in a private window does not guarantee your confidentiality

Unlike VPNs, private browsing does not guarantee the confidentiality of your data. Recently, Google Chrome users decided to take the American giant to court after discovering that Google was collecting their data even when using the browser in private mode.

However, keep in mind that sharing personal information is not bad, as long as you keep some control over the information you want to disclose.

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