Meet ‘CookieEnforcer’: A browser extension based on machine learning that automatically rejects cookies in your browser

This article summary is based on the research paper: 'CookieEnforcer: Automated Cookie Notice Analysis and Enforcement'

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A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Google claim to have found a way to use artificial intelligence to combat the proliferation of consent cookies on the Internet. A project called CookieEnforcer was announced this month to automate clicks on choices in these online authorization forms to disable all unusual cookies on the website. As a result, the resulting software can save netizens from rejecting cookies offered by the website.

According to the draft document, many users click “accept all” when confronted with cookie pop-ups required by European and other legislation, although unnecessary cookies can compromise privacy. To prevent people from disabling tracking cookies, some organizations that force them to implement these pop-ups have designed them to make navigation difficult or use dark patterns to trick someone into choosing the opposite option.

This is such a problem that France fined Google and Facebook 200 million euros in January for designing their pages, so it was more difficult to refuse cookies than to accept them.

The CookieEnforcer team eliminated the need for users to go through long consent forms and claimed that it takes an average of 12 clicks to turn off non-standard cookies. Because the layout of these forms varies from site to site, the software must be able to automatically identify and determine which offices should be selected. Instead of using the previous methods, which relied mainly on manual analysis and configuration, the group chose a machine learning model that was more scalable to the “breadth and depth of cookie alerts”.

Source: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2204.04221.pdf

When teaching how to successfully manage cookies on a website, the software works in three stages: when someone accesses a website, the trained software determines the location of the cookie alerts; then it predicts the actions required to replace offices to disable non-standard cookies; and finally, it does this by emulating the user’s mouse clicks. CookieEnforcer does all this in the background “without interfering with the user experience”.

Google is restarting the data dump to its European Privacy Sandbox controller: All information collected about users through the ad-consent system pop-up must be deleted. Determining the shape of cookies is done by solving the problem as a sequential task that converts cookies and website information into certain clicks that disable cookie tracking. Finally, CookieEnforcer is blocked as a Chrome extension.

The test revealed that CookieEnforcer is 91% effective at automatically disabling cookies on more than 500 of the best websites, according to Tranco. According to sources, the level of CookieEnforcer errors was also relatively low: It was tested against 500 domains, 250 of which had cookie notifications, 247 of which had cookie notifications, and only one of them had a false positive. Several domains have been ignored due to unusual practices, such as placing a cookie notification on a unique element of the site or automatically blocking automatic tools.

If you want to check out CookieEnforcer, you’re out of luck: it’s not available yet. The team of researchers stated that they were preparing a browser extension for general publication, but did not specify a date. Refer to the published researcher’s article for more information.

Paper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2204.04221.pdf

Quotes:

  • https://www.theregister.com/2022/04/12/cookie_consent_is_broken_and/
  • https://thenextweb.com/news/cookienforcer-ai-browser-extension-can-kill-cookie-popups

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