Webcon Ad_300x250_NYMITY_FINAL
If Google Cares About Cookie Consent, So Should You

Over the weekend, Google made a subtle—but significant—modification to its online search service in the EU: Nearly two years after Europe's deadline for EU member states to adopt national cookie consent laws, Google rolled out a cookie consent banner on its EU search sites.

If you're a visitor from the U.S., you may have missed it; the banner shows only if you visit Google sites from within the EU. However, EU visitors will clearly see Google's consent banner placed at the bottom of its main search page and at the top of subsequent search results. As well as informing visitors that "By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies," the banner provides a "Learn more" link that visitors can click on to watch a video about Google's cookie use and to see disclosures about the cookies it serves.

This development alone would be significant. But taken together with Facebook's recent announcement it will deploy the AdChoices icon—another implied consent solution for targeted adverts—on ads served through its FBX exchange, the implications become huge for the following reasons.

  • CPOs will find selling cookie consent adoption much easier now.

Selling the need to implement cookie consent to the business has always been a challenge. The thinking among marketing, analytics and web operations teams has always been that cookie consent is expensive to implement, time consuming to maintain and disruptive to the user experience and data collection practices. Other than the occasional penned letter by regulators, there's been no "real" enforcement to date and, with patchy market adoption of cookie consent, many businesses have performed a simple cost/benefit analysis and chosen inaction over compliance. But when two of the Internet's most heavily scrutinised businesses actively engage with cookie consent, they clearly think it's an issue worth caring about—and that means it's an issue YOU need to care about too. The "Google does it" argument is a powerful tool to persuade the business it needs to rethink its strategy and adopt a cookie consent solution.

  • Regulatory enforcement just got easier.

Rightly or wrongly, a perceived challenge for regulators wanting to enforce noncompliance has been that, before taking measures against the general publisher and advertiser population, they need first to address the behaviours of the major Internet players. While never overtly acknowledged, the underlying concern has been that any business pursued for not adopting a cookie banner would cry, "What about them?"—immediately presenting regulators with a challenge: Do they continue to pursue that business and risk public criticism for overlooking the bigger fish, or do they pursue the bigger fish and risk getting drawn into expensive, resource-draining legal battles with them? The result to date has been regulatory stalemate, but these developments could unlock this perceived barrier. While it's not the case that they will result in a sudden flurry of enforcement activity overnight, they are one of many factors that could start to tip the scales towards some form of meaningful enforcement in future.

  • Implied consent IS the accepted market standard.

When the cookie consent law was first proposed, there were huge concerns that we would be set upon by an avalanche of consent popup windows every time we logged online. Whizz forward a few years, and thankfully this hasn't happened, whatever regulatory preferences may exist for cookie opt-ins. Instead, over time, we've seen member states and—perhaps more importantly—the market grow more and more accepting of implied consent solutions. Adoption by major players like Facebook and Google lend significant credibility to implied consent, and smaller businesses will undoubtedly turn to the approaches used by these major players when seeking their own compliance inspiration. Implied consent has become the de facto market standard and seems set to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Businesses delaying compliance adoption due to concerns about the evolution of consent requirements in the EU now have the certainty they need to act.

Written By

Phil Lee, CIPM, CIPP/E


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.

  • Brock Rutter Apr 16, 2013

    After all that fuss about the "stupid cookie law" Google made it look so easy. I'm sure one could still get a laugh out of finding the old "EU stupid cookie law" video on YouTube. 
    But did authorities anywhere other than the UK and Ireland ever announce that implied consent would be acceptable, or is Google trying to get out in front of this issue?
  • Google is a bit more of implied consent Apr 19, 2013

    But not privacy by default yet. A few more months to come.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

NEW! Raise Staff Awareness

Equip all your data-handling staff to reduce privacy risk, with Privacy Core™ e-learning essentials.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

Upcoming Web Conferences

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Team

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

NEW! FIP Designation

Recognizing the advanced knowledge and issue-spotting skills a privacy pro must attain in today’s complex world of data privacy.

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

IAPP-OneTrust PIA Platform

Simplify privacy impact assessments with this cloud-based customizable platform - free to IAPP members!

72% say privacy is now a board-level concern

Find out more about privacy governance in the IAPP-EY Annual Privacy Governance Report 2016.

Privacy Vendor List

Find a privacy vendor to meet your needs with our filterable list of global service providers.

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

More Resources »

Time to Get to Work at the Congress

It's almost here! Thought leadership, a thriving community and unrivaled education...the Congress prepares you for the challenges ahead. Register now!

Plan for the Summit

The world’s premier privacy conference returns with the sharpest minds, unparalleled programs and preeminent networking opportunities. Registration opens December 19!

Intensive Education at the Practical Privacy Series

This year's Series spotlights Data Breach, FTC and Consumer Privacy, GDPR and Government privacy issues. It’s the education you need NOW. Early bird ends Nov. 4!

Speak at the Symposium

The call for speakers is open! The Symposium returns to Toronto this Spring and programming is now underway. Looking to share your privacy prowess? Submit by November 20!

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»