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Google Killing Cookies in Chrome is not what it seems



Illustration for the article titled Stop Let Google Get Away with the

Photo: David Ramos (Getty Images)

After spending more than a decade building massive profits off targeted advertising, Google announced Wednesday that it plans to remove any kind of individual tracking and targeting when the cookie is out of the picture.

In many ways, this announcement is just Google’s way of doubling its long-standing pro-privacy claims, starting with the company’s initial promise of 2020 to eliminate third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022. The privacy policy among us may agree to kill this kind of ubiquitous trackers and targeters is a net asset, but it’s not time to start cheering on the personal confidentiality of a company built on our data – as some were inclined to do after Wednesday’s announcement.

As the cookie kill date creeps closer and closer, we’ve seen a couple of big names in data brokerage and adtech-biz – shady third parties making money on cookies – trying to come up with some sort of “universal identifier“It could work as a replacement when Google pulls the plug. In some cases, these new IDs are dependent on people e-mail login it is being hashed and picked up from lots of sites on the web. In other cases, companies plan to deepen the remnants of a person’s identifiable data with other data that can be extracted from non-browser sources, such as Their connected TV or cell phones. There is tons of other schemes that these companies come up with in the middle of the cookie countdown, and apparently Google has none of that.

“We continue to be asked whether Google will join others in the ad technology industry who plan to replace third-party cookies with user-level alternative identifiers,” David Temkin, head of Google’s Ads Privacy and Trust product management team, wrote in a blog post , which was published on Wednesday.

In response, Temkin noted that Google does not believe that “these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly changing regulatory constraints.” Based on this, these kinds of products are “not a sustainable long-term investment,” he added, noting that Google does not plan to build “alternative identifiers to track individuals” once the cookie is lifted.

What Google do the plan to build, however, is its own mass of “privacy-preserving” ad targeting tools, just like its Federated learning of cohortsor in short FLoC. Just to get people moving: While cookies (and some of these planned universal IDs) track people by their individual browsing behavior as they jump from place to place, under FLoC, a person’s browser will take all data generated by that browsing and basically put it in a big pot of data from people with similar browsing behaviors – a “bunch” if you will. Instead of being able to target ads to people based on the individual data a person generates, Google would allow advertisers to target these giant pots of aggregated data.

We have written our full thoughts on FLoC Before—The short version is, like the majority of Google’s privacy pushes, as we’ve seen so far, the FLoC proposal is not as user – friendly as you might think. First, others have already pointed out that this proposal does not necessarily do so stop people are tracked over the net, it just ensures that Google is the only one doing it. This is one of the reasons why the upcoming cookie colocolse has already drawn control from competition authorities across the UK. Meanwhile, some U.S. trade groups have already done so loudly their suspicion that what Google is doing here is less about privacy and more about tightening it indecently tight grip on the digital advertising economy.

Which brings us back to the Google blog post from earlier this week – the post that was literally called “mapping a course towards a more privacy-first web”, while glossing over all the obvious issues that others have pointed out with FLoC: how tracking is still traces, even if it happens together. How Google’s claim that FLoC-based targeting is “95% as effective” as cookie-based targeting seems to be based on bunk math. How this trick would give Google exclusive access to a ton of user data that the company already has largely monopolizes. If Google actually wants to shift the national conversation about consumer privacy, it needs to start by clarifying what they think “privacy” actually means.


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