CookieEnforcer: Automated Cookie Notice Analysis and Enforcement

Abstract

Online websites use cookie notices to elicit consent from the users, as required by recent privacy regulations like the GDPR and the CCPA. Prior work has shown that these notices use dark patterns to manipulate users into making website-friendly choices which put users’ privacy at risk. In this work, we develop CookieEnforcer, a new system for automatically discovering cookie notices and deciding on the options that result in disabling all non-essential cookies. In order to achieve this, we first build an automatic cookie notice detector that utilizes the rendering pattern of the HTML elements to identify the cookie notices. Next, CookieEnforcer analyzes the cookie notices and predicts the set of actions required to disable all unnecessary cookies. This is done by modeling the problem as a sequence-to-sequence task, where the input is a machine-readable cookie notice and the output is the set of clicks to make. We demonstrate the efficacy of CookieEnforcer via an end-to-end accuracy evaluation, showing that it can generate the required steps in 91% of the cases. Via a user study, we show that CookieEnforcer can significantly reduce the user effort. Finally, we use our system to perform several measurements on the top 5k websites from the Tranco list (as accessed from the US and the UK), drawing comparisons and observations at scale.

Publication
Arxiv Preprint
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