CITI seminar – Victor Morel (Chalmers University of Technology) – 18th March 2024 at 2PM

Speaker: Victor Morel (Chalmers University of Technology)

Date: 18th March 2024

Time: 2PM

Place: Meeting Room, 4th floor, Inria building (Antenne), La Doua Campus

Title: Of cookies and paywalls 

Abstract: Cookie paywalls allow visitors of a website to access its content only after they make a choice between paying a fee or accept tracking. European Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) recently issued guidelines and decisions on paywalls lawfulness, but it is yet unknown whether websites comply with them.
We studied the prevalence of cookie paywalls on the top one million websites using an automatic crawler. We identified 431 cookie paywalls, all using the Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF). We then analysed the data these paywalls communicate through the TCF, and in particular, the legal grounds and the purposes used to collect personal data. We observed that cookie paywalls extensively rely on legitimate interest legal basis systematically conflated with consent. We also observed a lack of correlation between the presence of paywalls and legal decisions or guidelines by DPAs. Following the publication of the paper, we disseminated our results to several legal bodies in the EU, in order to contribute to the debate surrounding the last move of Meta to propose a similar ‘pay-or-okay’ business model for Facebook and Instagram.

Bio: Victor Morel is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Security & Privacy Lab at Chalmers University of Technology on usable privacy for IoT applications. He holds a PhD in computer science from Inria – Privatics. His research interests include privacy and data protection, networks security, usability and Human-Computer Interactions, applied cryptography, and ethics of technology in a broad manner. He is also a selected member of the EDPB’s support pool of experts. He appreciates sober, hackable, and accessible technology that works. Besides his academic activities, he is a member of FELINN’s collegiate council, a French association (1901) defending decentralization, privacy, and free software through popular education.