Monday, 9 July 2012

How to block annoying cookie popups without accepting a cookie

Problem: website cookie notices

I. Some of us don't particularly want random websites to remember us.

I don't particularly care if that means e.g. not remembering my preferred language.  (If I need to, I can always bookmark the English home page). I don't particularly appreciate the modern creeping intrusions on privacy either... But mainly - probably for technical reasons - I just prefer browsing an un-personalized Web.

II. Some of us reject cookies.

Or set them to expire after a short time. Or configure the browser to forget them all when it's closed. 
None of these options work perfectly - again, usage and technology creeps onwards; what used to look like useful settings are not as useful as they once were.  ("Users consent to all cookies if they haven't changing their browser settings" is a malicious lie. Setting cookies to "disabled" or "ask me every time" either breaks half the Web, or fills it with impossible-to-answer popups - or both, as soon as you guess wrongly.).

III. Half the Web now has a popup that requests consent for cookies.

Because the EU thought we had a point, and legislated to require informed consent.

IV. To get rid of the annoying popup, the website needs to remember your choice.

In other words, set a cookie. I don't call it ironic, because it was entirely predictable to anyone who was paying attention. (Although - whatever position you take on it - this isn't supposed to be a permanent state of affairs.  More a short-term pain).

In theory, if you use a website enough for the popup to become annoying, you're expected to 1) trust enough them to set a cookie.  Or 2), if you decide you don't, you're supposed to stop using it.  Or at least 3), leave the popup hanging around anyway as a reminder.

Unfortunately, I know at least one site where the popup is buggy. I don't expect they're alone. In this case, it's the "fixed positioned div breaks the page down key" bug. Hence this post: "How to block cookie popups without accepting a cookie".

Solution: Element hiding

I found a neat way to hide the popup anyway. It's the Firefox addon "Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus". A couple of clicks and keypresses, and you can block any page element you like, including cookie notices.

Obviously you have to install Adblock Plus as well. That doesn't necessarily mean blocking all ads; you can disable it on trusted sites, or disable the default "subscription" altogether. (For me, an ad-blocking subscription is redundant with NoScript).

UPDATE: YARIP looks slightly more intimidating, but it seems to be just as convenient to use.  I can definitely recommend it if you don't wish to use Adblock Plus.

1 comment:

kiboke said...

There's a firefox and chrome add-on named "I don't care about cookies" which removes these pop-ups, warnings etc. from thousands of websites (the list is growing rapidly).

Try it here