German authorities investigate cookie banners

The Baden-Württemberg data protection authority has announced that it will be checking the compliance of cookie banners on the websites of newspaper publishers from August 19, 2020. We'll tell you how you can design the cookie banner on your website to comply with GDPR and ePrivacy regulations.

The State Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (LfDI) Baden-Württemberg has decided to check the websites of media companies with regards to compliant cookie banners. The focus is on media with a particularly large online reach.

In addition to Baden-Württemberg, the data protection authorities in Hamburg, Brandenburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia are also participating in the process.

Link: Baden-Württemberg: LfDI Baden-Württemberg announces investigation on use of tracking technologies on newspaper websites

Until recently, it was unclear if and how consent to cookies must be obtained; the German Telemedia Act (TMG) could be interpreted in such a way that one only had to offer the option of rejecting cookies.

In May 2020, however, the German Federal Court of Justice decided, in accordance with the requirements of the ePrivacy Directive, that valid consent must be obtained from visitors to the website before cookies are set.

Consent must be given voluntarily and explicitly. Cookie walls that force users to accept cookies in order to be able to access the website are not permitted. Further, scrolling a website does not count as explicit consent, nor do boxes ticked in advance.

Strictly necessary cookies, however, do not require consent. These are cookies that are technically necessary for the loading and functioning of a website, e.g. shopping cart cookies, login cookies or language preferences.

What are the consequences of non-compliance?

The fines for non-compliance with the processing of personal data with the help of cookies are extensive. According to the GDPR, fines of €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover are imposed, including for violations related to the use of cookies.

Especially media companies often make extensive use of tracking technologies. According to the LfDI Baden-Württemberg, newspapers in particular enjoy a high level of trust from the population; this should also be reflected in the responsible handling of user data.

Link: What are the rules on cookies?

When it comes to informing users about cookies and obtaining and storing valid consents, you should use a certified Consent Management Platform.

With a Consent Solution from Cookie Information solution, you will receive a cookie consent pop-up that:

  • Informs your website visitors about cookies (who owns them, their purpose, their lifespan);
  • Gives your visitors the option to reject cookies (and tracking);
  • Holds back cookies until consent has been obtained;
  • Does not assume consent by ticking the boxes in advance;
  • Stores the consents for 5 years (in the event of an inspection by the data protection authorities);
  • Can be customized with your company logo, colors and fonts.

Check if your website complies with German privacy regulations.

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