The University of Southampton

Southampton students invent 'cookie cutter' to streamline web experience

Published: 26 April 2021
Andrius Matšenas (left) and Til Jordan (right) have launched the Stardust start-up.

Student entrepreneurs from the University of Southampton have created a free browser tool that automatically manages cookie pop-ups without sacrificing data privacy.

The Stardust start-up, founded by Computer Science and Mathematics students Til Jordan and Andrius Matšenas, is building a platform where users own, control, and communicate their personal data online.

Their new browser extension, called the Stardust Cookie Cutter, represents a first step toward this vision for people-centric personal data.

"Most of us have tried at least once to opt for the consents we are actually okay with but it's a forever repetitive task," Til says. "The reality is that after a short period of time most people give up trying and usually opt with 'Allow all'.

"Stardust, with its Cookie Cutter browser extension, proposes a solution - to only ask for a person's consent preferences once and automatically take care of the rest."

The plugin is free and accessible to everyone using Chrome, Firefox, Brave or Edge browsers. For other browsers, the instructions are given on the Stardust website.

The co-founders say that the start-up was born out of the billions of user records that are breached every year, rendering people’s personal data vulnerable online.

"Shifting data control from companies to individuals with transparent and independent technology is long overdue and probably the most sensible approach to alleviate the power of 'Big Tech' companies," Andrius says.

"It will firstly make online processes more convenient for the everyday person, like browsing the web without cookie pop-ups, but also in the long run cut server and infrastructure costs for companies and create many new business opportunities."

Til and Andius have previously demonstrated the benefits of personal data centred around the end-user in Garage48 Cybersecurity Hackathon in late 2020 where they secured a runner-up prize.

Stardust is part of this spring’s Founders Cohort for the University’s Future Worlds start-up accelerator, where a four-month acceleration programme will rapidly develop the business toward market.

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