By Jim Edwards, PressGazette, Jan. 24, 2024

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office will require all news publishers doing business in Britain to display a “reject all cookies” button that is “as easily” used as the “accept all” option on most websites.

News publishers believe up to 30% of readers would click “reject all” if it is offered at equal prominence to “accept all”. Currently, most news publishers offer readers a choice between “accept all” and “manage choices,” or some equivalent. If readers click the “manage” option, they typically get a more complicated menu in which they can make multiple choices. That menu will sometimes contain a “reject all” button, but often in a way that isn’t particularly prominent.

“This is potentially quite significant for publishers,” says Damon Reeve, CEO of The Ozone Project, an online ad sales marketplace that represents the Mail, The Guardian, The Telegraph and Reach. “Initial tests with publishers that we work with have indicated that up to 20-25% of users will click reject all, reducing publishers’ addressable web audience by that much.”

In response to the ICO, publishers seem likely to force more readers to either “accept all” cookies or subscribe to read — what some are calling “consent or pay”.

In Germany, 80% of news brands now require either full consent to third-party advertising cookies or a paid subscription — because they won’t offer news for free, according to SourcePoint, a company that provides consent management software to publishers.

One controversy revolves around whether the ICO will want to see a “reject all” button sitting immediately beside the usual “accept all” function, or whether it will still be OK to place “reject all” behind a menu that requires two or more clicks. The ICO has said it wants to see “reject all” available in a “single step.”

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