Thomas MacaulaySenior reporter
Thomas is a senior reporter at TNW. He covers European tech, with a focus on deeptech, startups, and government policy. Thomas is a senior reporter at TNW. He covers European tech, with a focus on deeptech, startups, and government policy.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions — or, as you may call them, “cookie pop-ups.”
The warnings have scarred the internet since the EU made them mandatory for most sites.
Lawmakers were understandably concerned about companies tracking users as they browse the web. The notifications are their attempt to protect our privacy.
Well, thanks — I hate them.
No one reads the stoopid banners, sites use dark patterns to trick us into accepting their worst terms, and the pop-ups make peaceful browsing a distant memory.
There are, however, tools that block and bypass the ubiquitous warnings of these trackers. Here are three of our favorites:
1. Super Agent
The Super Agent browser extension autofills cookie pop-up forms.
After installing the extension, you choose which tracking cookies you want to accept or reject. The extension then automatically fills out the consent forms based on your preferences.
The company also promises to never store your data by default, to inform you of any action taken, and warn you whenever it finds a website not respecting your preferences.
Super Agent is available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari. and Edge. The developers say it’s also coming soon to Opera
Consent-O-Matic adopts a similar approach to Super Agent.
You can program the tool to automatically apply your consent choices to new sites. The open-source browser extension will then navigate the pop-ups on your behalf — although it doesn’t work on every site.
The extension was invented by privacy researchers who got tired of companies flouting the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
You set your preferences once and Consent-o-Matic takes care of the rest. The 6 preferences you can toggle are based on the data processing purposes we found in 680 pop-ups (of the top 10K most popular sites in the UK).
— Midas Nouwens (@MidasNouwens) December 24, 2019
Consent-O-Matic is available on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
3. I don’t care about cookies
I don’t care about cookies is very effective if your feelings match the tool’s name — but it’s not the more privacy-centric option.
The popular plug-in automatically blocks or hides most cookie warnings. However, if cookies are required for a site to work properly, the extension automatically accepts the policy for you.
I don’t care about cookies is available on Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, and Pale Moon. You can also use the tool as a (less effective) filter list for adblockers.
Not good enough?
There are tons of other tools that offer similar services, but these are the three that we’ve found most effective.
If third party-tools don’t appeal, you can also block all cookies from your browser settings — although this can break many site features.
Another option is installing a privacy-first web browser such as Tor, which doesn’t store cookies by default.
Alternatively, you can endure the irritation till cookies are finally crushed — which may not take too long.
Firefox, Safari, and Brave have restricted blocked third-party cookies for years, while Chrome is due to phase them out by the end of 2023. Unfortunately, Google will probably replace them with some other form of tracking — leaving upstanding devs to clean up the mess once more.
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