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  • Online Privacy and Cookies: Do Users Really Control Their Data?

    Every action we take online, from browsing websites to shopping online, is recorded thanks to small text files known as cookies. These inconspicuous tools are the foundation of personalization and advertising on the Internet, but they also raise serious privacy concerns.

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in the European Union in May 2018. It aimed to strengthen users’ control over their personal data. This article examines if users really control their data in the context of “GDPR cookies.” Furthermore, it explores the practical challenges and implications of these regulations.

    A New Era of Privacy and GDPR Cookies

    GDPR obliges companies to obtain explicit consent from users to process their data, including the use of cookies. Users can now choose which cookies to accept and which to reject, except for those essential for the site’s operation. This step increases “user data control” and helps users manage their online privacy. Moreover, it makes companies more transparent about their data collection practices. This fosters a trust-based relationship with users.

    Consent for Cookies: Reality vs. Expectations

    Although cookie banners that appear during the first visit to a site are intended to inform users and collect their consent, they are often designed in a way that can be misleading. Users are frequently overwhelmed with complicated information, which calls into question whether their consent is truly informed. This raises questions about the real “consent for cookies” and whether it complies with the intent of GDPR.


    Websites vary in their approach to cookie consent. Some sites offer a detailed menu where users can precisely specify which cookies they accept. Other sites minimize the choice, which can lead to automatic acceptance of cookies. This shows how “user data control” is implemented differently across various websites.

    Pressure Tactics and “Consent Fatigue”

    The phenomenon of “consent fatigue,” where users, tired of being asked for permission, start to accept everything without thinking, is particularly dangerous. This can lead to unwanted consent for extensive online tracking and behavioral analysis. Such outcomes are contrary to the idea of “online privacy.”

    Although GDPR theoretically increased users’ control over their data, the practical implementation of these regulations leaves much to be desired. It seems crucial to not only further refine the regulations but also develop technologies that are privacy-oriented from the outset. Additionally, educating users about the importance of their choices and the potential consequences is essential. This combined approach will better protect online privacy and ensure that user consent remains meaningful.