UK Regulatory Authority Requires Websites to Allow Users to ‘Reject All’ Cookies

    The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned the country’s top websites about their advertising cookie usage. These sites must comply with privacy laws within 30 days or face penalties. The ICO demands that websites make rejecting all advertising cookies as simple as accepting them. Non-compliance could lead to hefty fines.

    Following France’s data protection authority, which fined TikTok for lacking a one-click cookie refusal option, the ICO has adopted a similar stance. Major UK websites, including the BBC, The Times, and The Guardian, have come under scrutiny for not offering easy cookie refusal options, instead redirecting users to settings pages. Although the ICO published its guidance in August, the rules were already on its website.

    The Data Protection Directive and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union still bind the UK post-Brexit. These regulations mandate explicit user consent for marketing cookies and trackers.

    Websites must act to respect user privacy and prevent unwarranted online ad targeting. The ICO will update on its progress and name non-compliant companies.

    Exemptions apply to “strictly necessary” cookies essential for smooth webpage function, visitor counting without profiling, and remembering online shopping basket items.

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