Showing posts with label privacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label privacy. Show all posts

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Finally Solved the Cookie Consent Riddle!

 I've been struggling with the whole European Union Data Protection (EUDP) Regulation... the Cookie Consent requirement, and by extension the California Consumer Protection Act.  It's easy to understand the need to protect everybody's privacy.  It's not so easy to understand the technical procedures to meet the requirements.  I'm a little more disgusted with government in general after all this.  If they're going to make a law requiring compliance, it should be built into the process.  Not laid on the end-user, many of whom, like myself, just want to write and lack all but the most rudimentary under-the-hood skills.  We're end-users, not professional programmers.

    I'm reasonably intelligent, but didn't want to spend weeks learning website code.  Especially when the advice on the internet is confusing, often incorrect, and overwhelming.  Or hidden behind a paywall, or a membership requirement.  Just at the time you think you learn something, you realize that's just one step, and then you have to learn more to implement another step.  Then you find out what you thought you knew was wrong, and you have to go back a few steps and start over.  It's been frustrating.

    In my last post, I shared a conversation with ChatGPT, asking for advice about how to comply with the cookie consent laws.  The chat occurred on Friday.  By Sunday evening (tonight) I've achieved conformity.  At least, as far as complying with the requirements.  Using the AI's advice as a springboard, I've learned what's actually needed, and how to approach it.  It's not that ChatGPT gave me the exact answers to my questions.  Rather, it gave me enough knowledge and understanding to find my own solutions.  And that's all I needed.  Just some honest, useful, advice.

    To begin, I wrote a Privacy/Cookie Policy page.  I learned the difference between writing a POST on Blogger, and writing a PAGE.  Learned how to use a widget under the layout tab, in the HEADER section, which gave the blog header tabs, in order to have my PAGES easily accessible.  Learned enough to follow (simple) directions from websites that provide the cookie consent popup.  Figured out how to access the HTML code from the Theme tab, and where to paste the popup code.

    Additionally, I learned that many of those "help" websites don't work.  It took trying several, and tampering with the HTML code for the site Theme (the look and feel of my blog, provided by Google).  I had to sign up for several services before finding out that the code they provided didn't function.

The site that worked for me, CookieYes, required a signup as well.  They offered paid services, but lucky for me they have a free service that worked nicely.  And included a tracking page, so you can track the consent record by IP address and date.  (Yes, apparently you have to provide this in case Big Brother wants proof that you're properly getting consent.)  To be honest it did a lot more than I expected, automatically.  I had to sign up first, making sure I chose a FREE service, not a TRIAL OFFER.  (Yeah, I picked the wrong one at first.)

Since I have some old blogs on Blogger, I'm not sure if they fall under some kind of umbrella, or if I'll need to do each one uniquely.  But there's no pressure, because I don't plan on using AdSense on any of the others.  I'll figure all that out another day.

Unlike some of the sites that offered free popup services, CookieYes' popup actually... you know... popped up.  I had to give my own consent to view my blog with the cookies.  For added confirmation that it's working, their stats page actually tracked when I clicked the approval button.  It's SUCH a huge relief to finally understand what needed to be done, and know that it's actually working!

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Jump-Starting Grace Notes: Surprising Solutions

 In the previous post, I was (honestly, ranting) explaining about the difficulties of installing a cookie consent widget into Google Blogger.  I've learned a lot about how to do it, but the more I learn, the more it seems there IS to learn.
    The solutions I've tried so far haven't worked.  But even minor progress is still progress, and I'm still trying to figure it out.  Yesterday, a good friend (Thanks, Eugene!) gave me the most amazing suggestion... ChatGPT.

    I'd never heard of it.  If you haven't either, it's an AI that you can freely talk with (like talking with someone on a forum, but more polite).  Ask questions, and in a reasonably natural writing style, it will do its best to answer.  It felt like I was talking to a very smart, and very polite, person.  The suggestions it offered seemed useful and well-thought out.  If you're curious, below is a transcript of the conversation we had:

    I asked, very specifically, how to add a cookie consent widget to my Google Blogger website.  Here's the result.  (My comments are bolded to make it easier to follow)

Jump-starting Grace Notes: Unexpected Difficulties

     My last post may have been overoptimistic.  In assuming everything was converging and the rebuilding would begin, I didn't think (or really even KNOW) about Cookie Consent.  On the surface, it seems like a great idea.  Protect people's privacy.  I'm all for it.
    What I'm not for, is making it so darned complicated to do, that I came close to giving up on Grace Notes.

    A decade ago, all a blogger had to worry about was having a decent privacy policy.  Now, you also need a Cookie Consent policy, and some kind of widget to prevent people from viewing your website until they:

A - acknowledged and approved cookies
B - chose to block cookies entirely
C - or left your website.

    This assumes a LOT of technical ability that I lack. I used to be pretty good on computers, but this overwhelmed and depressed me.  The more I learned, the harder it became.  You can't just post an info page for people to read.  It has to be some kind of blocker, that stops people until they decide what to do.  Technically, there's apparently a requirement to track the names and identifications for everybody that clicked "I Understand" on my blog.  
    Honestly, isn't that ironic?  They want me to maintain a list of private data, of people who allow cookies to track their private data.  Maybe a better word would be redundant.

    Anyway, I've been stuck on this for over a week.  In the old days, there were plenty of friendly bloggers and guides that helped me figure out every complicated issue, because they learned how, and wanted to share.  Now, the web is full of professional sites that require you to sign up, to get their solutions.  Some are free, but still, it's discouragingly rare to find a helpful soul just sharing their knowledge.
    To top it off, the few I've found aren't offering working solutions.  They're outdated, or incorrect, or maybe they're just skipping steps that they assume I already know.  The even fewer guides I've actually been able to follow, either haven't worked... or made disconcerting changes to the blog.  Like the one that turned all my text the wrong color.

    First off... why isn't there a standard widget for this?  So many other functions have been 'widgetized.'

    Beyond that, and a much bigger question, why aren't the companies who CREATE the cookies being held responsible?  Instead of leaving it to a hodgepodge of more or less (or MUCH less) internet savvy folks sitting at home trying to figure this out... Why doesn't the cookie itself include the "click to acknowledge" button? 
    Then, compliance wouldn't be up to millions of independent web-owners who may or may not understand how to accomplish the task.  It would be up to the company that already knows how to program the cookies and make them work!!  It would be problem/solution in one transparent solution.  

At this point, I think there's light on the horizon.  More details coming in the next post.

Recent Posts