I have experienced several times now that sites require payment if you do not accept non-essential cookies. My reading of the relevant legislation (from the EU - I have not browsed the Californian legilation) indicates that I, as a consumer, should be allowed to refuse cookies that I do not want to accept.

Is it legal for them to block access and require payment? (I am not blocking ads - just saying that they cannot target ads to me. I cannot comprehend how me not allowing them to save a cookie would make them try to block my access)

Just to clarify: I am aware that collection of demographic data can be important to ensure that your content and ad campaigns are relevant to visitors. My concern however is that I don't see how I have to accept to be tracked more than strictly necessary to read their site - this is cookies, not blocking ads!

The types of sites have always been news sites.

I have read this answer and I don't feel that it has sufficiently answered the question I have.

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    What type of websites are you talking about?
    – Joe W
    Dec 17, 2022 at 21:15
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    @JoeW These are quite common "news" websites (often infested with click-bait-articles, though but that's irrelevant here): When you open the website, you are asked to either allow all cookies or pay to visit the site ad-free. There's no "visit with ads, but don't track me" button.
    – PMF
    Dec 17, 2022 at 21:22
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    I don't know whether what they do is legal, but as a workaround, I'm only visiting such pages with my browser in "private" mode.
    – PMF
    Dec 17, 2022 at 21:24
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    @jcaron not true - without cookies thay cannot target ads to me specifically, but if the ads are aligned with the subject matter of the article (which I MUST be interested in - I clicked the link) they still have a chance of getting a hit. I generally have the theory that the more you advertise for somehting, the worse the product must be (my best example is McDonalds ;-) ) I get sceptical if I see too many ads for something
    – JoSSte
    Dec 18, 2022 at 13:31
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    @jcaron 99% of those ads have URL parameters set so that the sending site can be identified, so I am not in complete agreement with that site.
    – JoSSte
    Dec 18, 2022 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


Your title is not necessarily consistent with your example.

Can a website demand acceptance of non-essential cookies to allow access?

As you have found, GDPR prohibits conditioning the provision of service on consent to the processing of personal data. Cookie walls without alternative means of access are generally considered violations of the GDPR.

Can a website demand acceptance of non-essential cookies to allow free access?

The situation of a "consent or pay" scheme (or "cookie paywalls") is more uncertain and has not been clearly settled at the EU level. There are data protection authorities that do not consider such scheme necessarily a GDPR violation (Austria, France) if a reasonable alternative access, without requiring non-essential cookies, is provided. For what it is worth, the French data protection authority (CNIL) held initially that all cookie walls are illegal, but on appeal from publishers and advertisers, the French supreme administrative court annulled CNIL's initial guidelines for being too absolute.

German and Italian authorities are still examining the validity of such scheme.

More reading:

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    I thought that the GDPR was a later legislation than the cookie legislation. I do see that they are related, and that the cookie legislation has been tightened as a result of GDPR though.
    – JoSSte
    Dec 18, 2022 at 10:15

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