Google Warns Against Blocking ‘Cookies’ Entirely, Triggering Criticism

Google Warns Against Blocking ‘Cookies’ Entirely, Triggering Criticism

Tech company proposes “privacy sandbox” to set new standards after promising in May to let users restrict cookies

By Patience Haggin Aug. 26, 2019 7:41 pm ET

After promising to offer tools to let users limit “cookies,” tiny files that help internet and advertising companies track  users, Alphabet Inc.’s Google suggested it won’t go any further, saying in a blog post that blocking cookies entirely could be counterproductive for user privacy.

The post from late last week has drawn criticism in recent days from some privacy advocates who say Google’s Chrome internet browser should catch up to the stricter practices of rivals Firefox and Safari.
Ad tech companies and some digital publishers are wary of a major crackdown on cookies, saying it would hurt their businesses.
In its post, Google said blocking cookies will encourage the rise of other, more nefarious methods of tracking internet users.
These include so-called “fingerprinting” through which sites collect various signals about users, such as the fonts on their screens or the devices they use, to keep track of unique individuals as they browse the internet.
Google said it was exploring new privacy technologies to enable personalized ads without compromising privacy, in a framework it called the “privacy sandbox.”
As part of that initiative, Google proposed a so-called “privacy budget” that would impose a cap on the amount of data any site could request from a browser that might be used to identify a user.
Cookies are small text files stored in internet browsers that let companies follow users around the internet, gathering information such as which sites they visit and what ads they view or click. Hundreds of digital ad companies rely on them to collect user data.
Google’s latest comments on the technology surprised some in the industry who assumed the company was working toward phasing out cookies after remarks Google made in May.
The company promised at that time to launch new tools to restrict cookies. Those tools are going forward, but a full-on cookie crackdown isn’t happening.
“Many folks were expecting Google to do something. When major competitors have come out with a much praised user feature, you can imagine they would come out with something that competes with that,” said Jonathan Mayer, an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton University. “This notion that blocking cookies is bad for privacy is completely disingenuous.”
“I interpret the announcement as giving Google an opportunity to try to show forward momentum on privacy while at the same time not doing anything that would negatively impact its own business interests,” said Jason Kint, chief executive of Digital Content Next, a trade association for online publishers that has argued online tech platforms are harming competition and consumers. Google’s digital ad business uses data on users collected partially through cookies.
Chetna Bindra, Google’s senior product manager for trust and privacy, said the criticism “misstates the intent of what we’re trying to do. It’s more about broadening this conversation beyond cookies.”
The debate extends to the issue of who benefits financially from browser cookies. Google cited its own research showing that publishers lose an average of 52% of their advertising revenue when their readers block cookies.
The results differ substantially from an academic study published this spring, which found that publishers only receive about 4% more ad revenue for an ad impression that has a cookie enabled than for one that doesn’t.


Popular posts from this blog

Report: World’s 1st remote brain surgery via 5G network performed in China

Visualizing The Power Of The World's Supercomputers

BMW traps alleged thief by remotely locking him in car