Google vows not to use new tracking tech after replacing cookies
After announcing plans to phase out third-party cookies — those crumbs of code that track you online — Google said it won’t build alternative identifiers to track users across the web. Any tools that are developed by other advertising tech companies won’t be used in Google’s products, so users can enjoy a quieter, more private browsing experience.
The move comes more than a year after Google said it was developing a set of open standards called Privacy Sandbox, which is meant to enhance user privacy on the web. When Privacy Sandbox was announced, Google said its creation was in response to users becoming dissatisfied with advertisers collecting data to show them ads.
“If digital advertising doesn’t evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web,” Google said in a blog post.
Ever since Google announced plans to block third-party cookies, advertisers have been devising alternative means of tracking users. One possible solution is PII graphs based on people’s email addresses. Google won’t use that solution and instead will focus on developing its own tools that will protect user anonymity but still deliver results for advertisers and publishers.
Privacy has become a huge concern for users on the web, with targeted ads often following people across websites, apps, and social media. According to Pew Research Center, 72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by ads, and 81% say that the potential risks from data collection outweigh the benefits. Google said the future of the web will rely on advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing, and other privacy-preserving technologies.
We’ve seen a similar fight to protect privacy from Apple. The company has clamped down on tracking in its Safari browser and is also preparing an App Tracking Transparency feature in iOS 14, which has provoked the ire of Facebook. The social network is attempting to wage war on Apple, including an antitrust lawsuit over iOS 14’s privacy features.
“Keeping the internet open and accessible for everyone requires all of us to do more to protect privacy — and that means an end to not only third-party cookies but also any technology used for tracking individual people as they browse the web,” Google said.
Google said it has been testing a method that takes third-party cookies out of the advertising equation and instead hides individuals within large crowds of people with common interests. As the company’s Privacy Sandbox tools evolve, Google said it will continue to solicit feedback from end-users and the industry.
“People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising,” Google said. “And advertisers don’t need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising.”