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Internet users must actively consent to companies storing cookies that are used to track online browsing behaviour, the European Court of Justice said on Tuesday in a ruling that could significantly effect ePrivacy regulation. The ruling stems from a 2013 case when the German Federation of Consumer Organizations took legal action against online lottery company Planet49, which had a pre-ticked checkbox to authorise the use of cookies. The cookies - data sent from a website and stored on a user's computer - collected information to help target advertisements for products offered by Planet49's partners.

The consumer organisation argued this was illegal because the authorisation did not involve explicit consent from the user. The German Federal Court of Justice asked for guidance from the EU's highest court to rule on the case in relation to EU laws on internet privacy. The EU court sided with the German consumer group, saying EU law aimed to protect consumers from interference with their private lives.

The Norwegian Research Centre for Computers and Law at the University of Oslo said in a statement that the ruling is "likely to have a significant impact on the ongoing negotiations on the ePrivacy regulation which is set to regulate cookie usage."

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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