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Pop-ups about cookies constantly interrupt you online. Here's how they could go away

• https://www.cnet.com, Laura Hautala

If you've ever growled in anger when a pop-up about cookies takes over half your screen, we've got news for you. A new law could help phase out the annoyances, which often deliver seemingly self-contradicting messages such as "We use cookies to make your experience better."

California voters approved a privacy-oriented ballot measure in November that creates an incentive for companies to stop pestering you about cookies. It can be hard to tell from many of the pop-ups, but businesses are asking you to give them permission to install small files on your web browser so they can sell or share data about your browsing habits. The process for making these messages less common is already underway.

The California attorney general is tasked with defining a browser setting that will let you automatically tell websites not to share or sell your data. By the time the new law comes into effect in 2023, major web browsers are expected to offer the setting as a privacy feature. At that point, companies will get to remove a button that says "Do not sell my personal information" from their websites if they honor the browser setting without splashing pop-ups across your screen asking you to opt back in to the sale of your data. 

The cookie pop-ups come from a well intentioned place. In an effort to give Californians more control over their privacy, an earlier state law gave consumers the right to opt out of the sale of their personal data, including their web browsing habits. But the cookie pop-ups often do little to inform users of their privacy rights, instead urging them to just click "okay" to clear their screens from distractions. 


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