The European Court of Justice has made a new ruling that will potentially impact the way users will interact with websites, and the way the internet works in general. From now on, European users will have to explicitly consent to being tracked through cookies.
Previously, users were often presented with a pre-ticked checkbox that stated that they consented to being tracked through cookies by default; however, the latest ruling now states that websites must seek active consent and should also leave the checkboxes empty, allowing users to tick if or whether they want to be tracked and followed.
It all started when the German Federation of Consumer Organizations took legal action against an online lottery company known as Planet49 for using a pre-ticked checkbox for authorizing cookie usage. The consumer organization took this matter to the German Federal Court of Justice and argued that the practices followed by Planet49 were illegal as it didn't involve the explicit collection of consent.
The German Federal Court sought guidance from the European Court of Justice to rule on the case while taking the EU internet privacy laws into consideration. EU's highest court supported the arguments made by the German consumer organization and echoed the opinion that EU laws were primarily aimed at protecting consumers against privacy invasion.
“A pre-ticked checkbox is therefore insufficient,” said the European Court of Justice in a press release asserting that websites will now have to seek specific and explicit content before collecting cookies.
According to the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law at the University of Oslo, the latest ruling may have a “significant” impact regarding the ongoing ePrivacy regulations, which is also related to the regulation of cookie usage.
Several popular websites such as Facebook and Twitter have a default and implicit cookie consent wherein a user invariably agrees to cookie collection by simply using their services. However, the latest ruling about cookie collection may bring a major change to these platforms.
It is also to be noted that the ruling of this case filed by the German consumer group predates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the May 2018.