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UK privacy watchdog warms local websites to adhere to privacy laws or face prosecution


November 24, 2023

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UK privacy watchdog warms local websites to adhere to privacy laws or face prosecution

UK’s privacy watchdog is once again warning British websites to comply with data protection laws or risk monetary penalties and prosecutions

In this latest warning, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) gives the UK’s top websites 30 days to comply with privacy laws and make needed changes to cookie consent banners, to give people more control over the personal information they share.

Specifically, the privacy regulator has referred to harmful design practices of these cookie consent banners that make it difficult for users to “Reject All” advertising cookies when accessing particular online platforms.

“Some websites do not give users fair choices over whether or not to be tracked for personalised advertising,” the ICO explained. “We have now written to companies running many of the UK’s most visited websites setting out our concerns and giving them 30 days to ensure their websites comply with the law.”

Targeted advertising uses data collected about consumers, focusing on their specific interests and behaviors. While it can be convenient, many users across the UK feel the ads are very intrusive and infringe on their privacy.

“We’ve all been surprised to see adverts online that seem designed specifically for us – an ad for a hotel when you’ve just booked a flight abroad, for instance,” said Stephen Almond, ICO’s Executive Director of Regulatory Risk. “Our research shows that many people are concerned about companies using their personal information to target them with ads without their consent. Many of the biggest websites have got this right. We’re giving companies who haven’t managed that yet a clear choice: make the changes now, or face the consequences."

The ICO said it will keep consumers up to date on its work and provide a list of companies that have not made the required adjustments at the beginning of 2024.

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Alina is a history buff passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She spends most of her time between her two feline friends and traveling.

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