On your first visit to the website for Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading online news source, you’re faced with a choice: buy a €4.99 monthly subscription or give up your data.
T-Online, Bild, Die Welt, and a variety of other news sites offer the same choice. Want private browsing? Cough up or kick rocks. The new privacy headache cropping up in some central European countries has been dubbed a “cookie paywall,” and it could make surfing the web very expensive.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Europe’s sweeping privacy law, requires companies obtain your consent before they collect and process your data. The law says that consent is supposed to be “freely given,” but there’s enough room for interpretation that regulators in Austria and France have ruled that the cookie paywall model isn’t blatantly illegal. So far, the European Data Protection Board, which oversees how GDPR is applied across the EU, hasn’t weighed in.