Hate cookie popups? Try this

Can there be anyone at all who uses the internet who isn’t sick to death of cookie popups?

That really irritating popup telling you that “this site uses cookies” is a legal requirement. It was meant to make us all more aware of the fact that websites track what we are doing online and can buy and sell such information. If the lawmakers naively thought that it would make us better informed and put us in a position to make informed decisions about the data collected on our web visits, they were very mistaken. All it has done is irritate us all to distraction.

The big companies have long since realised that they can make the information they reveal to us about their cookies so complicated, and time-consuming to wade through, that we just respond “yes, yes, yes, just clear off and let me see the website” – thereby giving them permission to carry on spying on us and recording everything we do.

Google cookie popup
Google’s cookie popup (as if you needed telling)
It’s also very ironic that, if you really hate being tracked around the internet, then you probably delete all cookies when you close your browser. This, of course, makes the cookie popup problem even worse as the information you have previously given about your “cookie preferences” is also stored in cookies and is, therefore, deleted when you close your browser. This causes the popup to come back again the next time you visit. How many times have we all seen Google’s “Before you continue to Google search” screen?

Somehow – in between covid, climate change, and gas supplies – the issue has even reached the agenda of the government.

However, I don’t think I’m going to hold my breath while Boris sorts it out.

Luckily, there’s a much simpler solution in the form of “extensions” to your internet browser. Browser extensions are like “bolt on goodies” or “bells and whistles” that change the behaviour of your browser. In this case, the extensions don’t seek to magically make the popups disappear in a puff of smoke. Instead, they intercept the cookies and try to give automatic answers that will give the cookies the least possible permission as regards tracking you and your data. Satisfied that they’ve got an answer, the cookie popups then disappear. Because of this approach, it’s not completely certain that the extensions will be able to intercept all cookies, but my experience over the last couple of weeks is that the one I have installed in Chrome stops at least 95%. It even stops that Google one! Well, not quite. In my experience, the Google cookie popup appears briefly and then disappears in less than a second. Poof! Just like that! If that’s not magic, it’s as good as.

Oliver Dowden
Oliver Dowden, Digital Secretary – hoping to oversee a paring back of the “cookie laws”
But it must also be remembered that using such extensions means we are trusting the extension to give the right response to the website – ie don’t plant cookies other than the necessary ones. Personally, I’m so fed up with cookies that I’m prepared to take the risk that the extension might get it wrong occasionally.

There are several such extensions available, but I’ve been so impressed with just one that I haven’t looked further. It is called “Consent Manager“. Click on that link, click on the blue “Add to Chrome” button, confirm that you wish to add the extension, and off you go. Note that the latest version of Microsoft Edge is actually just a “flavour” of Chrome, so the button saying “Add to Chrome” is right, even if you are adding it to Edge. Oddly, though, I have found the extension far less effective in both Firefox and Edge than Chrome (it doesn’t block the Google banner or Amazon’s cookie popup in either Firefox or Edge for instance).

If this has whetted your appetite, but Consent Manager doesn’t work well enough for you in your own favourite browser, then try googling “cookie pop up blocker safari” (substituting your own browser’s name for “safari”, of course).

Or, you could just wait for Boris to sort it out.