WordPress Proposal – API Consent

WordPress has recently announced that it is currently considering a Consent API so that it’s users and admins have the benefit of standardized consent across various plug-ins.

“Cookies and Privacy”

You may have noticed that on other websites that you go to there is a pop-up window informing you of that site’s privacy policy or “cookie” uses and requesting consent. A cookie is a program that is embedded by a site that tracks your activity on the site. Sites can use information that cookies collect from you so that they can develop a type of profile that they can use to recommend services or goods to you that they provide.

Recently the European Union has developed certain laws based around the use of cookies and the information they collect. For example in certain European countries it is illegal for a site to use cookies without consent provided from the user. This is where consent API’s come in. However just because you see a pop-up window mentioning privacy policies or consent requests does not necessarily mean that your acknowledgement of the notification is required before the cookies get cookin’.

A study conducted found that a majority of sites made it more difficult to deny consent of cookie use or data collection, than it did your you to approve it. Typically a pop-up window for consent may appear in a small box or in a banner along your screen. It is usually filled with text that briefly informs you that use of the site enables cookies to collect your information. Here is where sites tend to differ: Site A may not ask for consent. It may simply be a banner notifying you that cookies operate on their site and you need to be informed of this, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. This is frowned upon as it does not even bother to ask for permission. Still, that is better than providing false hope. Site B may provide a banner and text and also a selection for whether or not you give consent, however do not make the mistake of thinking no action means no consent. For Site B unless you specifically check “no” and follow any other prompts that may pop up to deny consent, Site B will simply take your lack of denial as approval. This is also frowned upon and according to the study, still a poor way of respecting people’s privacy, and in some cases the laws of the region in which they live in.

Of Course there are other sites that do actually take your consent into consideration. There is Site C which will ask for consent, and when you deny it then it will submit additional prompts for you to follow. As mentioned before these are usually more difficult than it would be to approve the cookie consent policy. In some cases Site D may redirect you to their privacy policy page that outlines exactly what it uses your data for after the cookies collect it. They might even require that you send an email specifically requesting that they do not share any of your information with either their third party advertisers or others.

Finally there are sites that will honor what is selected by users when they click on the cookie consent options. The study finds these often few and far between which is why many are looking to API’s that can provide users an opportunity for real consent.

Consent API Development

Garrett Hyder, a web developer on the WordPress Core Team which develops WordPress wrote that, “A standard way for WordPress core, plugins, and themes to obtain consent from users should be established to provide a consistent and stable experience for administrators, developers, and users of all kinds.”

WordPress’s proposed API would not act as a blocker from 3rd party scripts but will allow easier interface with consent management plugins that are specific for sites and make a standard way for receiving consent. Once the plugin is approved it would be used and other third-party consent plugins would need to interface with it for proper use.

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2020-07-06T21:17:57+00:00