CCT student Jenny Lee presented a paper titled “Comparing Consent to Cookies: A Case for Protecting Non-Users” at the 4S conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Co-authored with CCT Associate Professor Meg Leta Jones, the paper takes on a comparative approach to consent and choice through the use of cookies and “Do Not Track” – a privacy enhancing mechanism designed to block tracking by third-parties. The paper details the history of cookies as consent, starting from the 1990s, and ends with the legislative proposals currently being considered in each region. It argues that Do Not Track presents an opportunity for international interoperability and true choice and privacy for all individuals.

The paper was presented in a panel dedicated to the study of non-users, a group of people increasingly overlooked in the digital age. First coined by Sally Wyatt, non-users can be defined as individuals who do not use objects or services as an act of resistance. The papers and presentations on the panel examined how policies and technologies could be shaped to include non-users instead of assuming the unavoidability of universal use.

“Comparing Consent to Cookies” will be published in the Cornell International Law Journal. This research was completed as part of the International Sociotechnical Policy (ISPY) Lab, a collaborative research group founded by Professor Jones. ISPY is dedicated to the study of technologies and social issues through comparative, historical, and legal methods. Current projects include non-use, consent, content moderation, and voter privacy.