Google to eat away its cookies for a more private browsing experience4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Everyone has an online presence today – your friends, family, neighbour, even the neighbour’s cat! It’s next to impossible to come across someone without a digital footprint, with the internet serving as a vast pool that stores all our information.
What is a digital footprint?
It is information about a particular person that exists on the internet as a result of their online activity.
When brands realised just how many people are constantly online, they figured out that the best way to reach potential customers would be to have their own digital presence, with advertisements to remind you to buy, buy, buy!
Here’s an example – you may have seen an ad for a cool new pair of shoes and you click on the website of the brand to get a better look. For some reason, you decide not to buy those shoes right then, but the same ad then keeps popping up on different websites you scroll. Freaky, right? This is how advertisement technology works!
The privacy question
Now, in a statement last week, Google announced that it will stop selling ads based on what and where people browse, as the debate on privacy has been creating heating up. Alphabet Inc, which is the parent company of Google, said its ad tools will no longer support individual tracking of users across websites from 2022 onwards. The plan now is to look at other ways to advertise, where users like you and me and brands are happier. This would involve the doing away of third-party cookies from Chrome.
Third-party cookies may sound delicious, but they are actually little bits of code that can let advertisers track user history across the web.
Meanwhile, Apple’s Safari browser and Mozilla’s Firefox have already started to block third-party cookies. Google Chrome wants to do this too in a phased manner over the next two years.
“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,” David Temkin, Google’s director of product management for ads privacy and trust, said in a blog post.
Google under fire
So what made Google want to change how brands reach out to us? Well, for a while now, the internet giant has been slammed by the public and by lawmakers for how it targets and tracks users as part of its ad business. There are various ongoing lawsuits Google is facing.
The way ahead
Given all this criticism, Google was trying to push towards a ‘privacy sandbox’. This allows brands to target ads based on people’s interests, but without infringing on an individual’s privacy. In January, Google announced that it was testing out Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) as a means of advertising. Here, FLoC, the idea is to group people into clusters based on common interests, rather than tracking individual interests. This allows people to be anonymous within a group.
However, the company has made it clear that it will not be building new technology to support user tracking on Chrome, as it feels that this process is unnecessary to making certain ads reach the right people.
Sources: Economic Times, Indian Express, cnet.com
Images: hallaminternet.com, bgr.com, Giphy