Sep 13, 2022 | Articles

Conquer the cookie monster



Sesame Street Cookie Monster
a typical cookie banner

The Birth of The Cookie Banner

Companies should, both legally and ethically, provide an easy way to decide which cookie to accept. However, in the real world, it is up to you. This is where the notorious banners come in.

The Best Case Scenario

I want to start on a positive note, though. Some sites actually do not sell data to begin with. allows you to “officially opt-out” even though they do not sell the data anyway.
A simple No, Thanks button to reject all. The banner is also smaller, delayed and cute.
If I do want to customize, they give me a very granular (too much?) choice

The Mediocre, The Bad and The Evil

Unfortunately, most websites do not adopt these best practices, due to ignorance or malice. Most of them are on the right side of the law, but they make the process unnecessarily complicated. They add what Thaler and Sunstein call “sludge” in their book Nudge (2008, 2021).

It looks like a 1-click rejection, but you actually have to make a choice. The Sale of Personal Data is checked by default
The two buttons look very similar and may lead to mistakes, but at least it is a 1-click rejection
Regardless of which option you choose (or if you click the link in the black box, you are sent to privacy settings) It is pretty easy from here
All options are turned off by default —
Information overload —
this is very close to the “confirm-shaming” deceptive pattern.
This was the old Privacy choices box for BMC (see above for the new design)
The Privacy page is a complicated mess. If you want to opt-out, you need to email them
Do Not Sell my Data seems like an obvious choice.
This is where you are re-directed: this opens in a new window. Note that the link for California Consumer Privacy Note does not work.
I need to go back to the main site, click on Privacy Policy, and then California Rights, to get to the correct info.

The option times out and disappears. If you need to opt-out , then you need to fill out a form, and individually opt-out for phone numbers, addresses and emails, 3 forms in total.


There is an almost infinite variation of the cookie banner, and most of them are bad, confusing and/or misleading. We can’t expect companies to stop collecting tracking cookies any time soon, and without expanded privacy laws and strong enforcement of the one that exists, they will have no motivation to do it.


Hana Habib, Megan Li, Ellie Young, and Lorrie Cranor. 2022. “Okay, whatever”: An Evaluation of Cookie Consent Interfaces. In Proceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 621, 1–27.

originally posted on Medium on August 8, 2022




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