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The Case of the Missing Cookies: Impacts of the GDPR on European Online News

Virtually all newspaper websites contain bits of code that facilitate data exchange with advertisers and social media companies.

The use of such "third party" cookies is explained in newspaper privacy agreements as a way to serve people "better ads," however it also contributes to pervasive digital surveillance practices, linking newspapers to social media, target marketers, and political strategists. The implementation of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation of 2016 (GDPR) provides insight into the functions of these cookies because it led to a 22% reduction in the number of third party cookies on EU news websites. A critical reading of the privacy agreements from 25 online newspapers of the United States and Europe permits reflection on this change and more generally on the ways in which journalism is becoming embedded in what Shoshana Zuboff calls "surveillance capitalism."

 
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Paul C. Adams
University of Texas, USA