Google Says It Wants a “Privacy-First” Web

Google today acknowledged that the proliferation of advertising-based tracking on the web has eroded the trust of its users. And so this company, which earns over 80 percent of its revenues from advertising, now says it will improve privacy and reduce online tracking while protecting its digital advertising business. Somehow.

“As our industry has strived to deliver relevant ads to consumers across the web, it has created a proliferation of individual user data across thousands of companies, typically gathered through third-party cookies,” Google’s David Temkin writes. “72 percent of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms[,] or other companies, and 81 percent say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits, according to a study by Pew Research Center.”

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Last year, Google updated Chrome so that it no longer supports third-party cookies, and the firm has been working with the industry to create a Privacy Sandbox that will “protect anonymity while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.” And while it’s unclear how Google could ever find a happy middle ground between the needs of those two customers—users and advertisers—the firm says now that it doesn’t really need to do much more to protect its users’ privacy.

“We continue to get questions about whether Google will join others in the ad tech industry who plan to replace third-party cookies with alternative user-level identifiers,” Temkin continues. “Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.”

So what’s Google’s alternative? Its products will instead be powered by “privacy-preserving APIs” that prevent individual tracking while still supporting the needs of its advertisers.

“Advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing[,] and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers,” Temkin claims. “There is no need to sacrifice relevant advertising and monetization in order to deliver a private and secure experience … 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.”

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Conversation 35 comments

  • yoshi

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 10:00 am

    <p>Google and privacy go together about as well as water and a Gremlin.</p>

    • crunchyfrog

      03 March, 2021 - 10:51 am

      <blockquote><a href="#616252"><em>In reply to yoshi:</em></a><em> You're dating yourself there :)</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

      • darkgrayknight

        Premium Member
        03 March, 2021 - 2:44 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#616265">In reply to crunchyfrog:</a></em></blockquote><p>how do you know? ;)</p>

  • erich82

    03 March, 2021 - 10:08 am

    <p>One can hope.</p>

  • webdev511

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 10:16 am

    <p>For some reason this is a bit difficult to believe. Even as I look at the nineteen different JavaScripts embeded on even this site as a paying subscriber I know that they aren't all required, but there they are…</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      04 March, 2021 - 9:26 am

      We built our site on WordPress like the rest of the planet. The problem isn’t “us,” it’s that this is how the web is made.

  • wright_is

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 10:21 am

    <p>Too little, too late, for me.</p>

  • anoldamigauser

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 10:50 am

    <p>The irony of this is too much.</p><p>We have met the enemy, and he is us.</p>

  • crunchyfrog

    03 March, 2021 - 10:50 am

    <p>So in other words, the pressure from governments worldwide and privacy organizations are finally making Google sweat so they'll agree to play nice so they don't get booted or severely restricted from their core business. Meanwhile, they will work on new ways of doing old things but with a new name.</p>

  • ronv42

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 11:17 am

    <p>Let me get this right. Google wants to be the gatekeeper of the APIs for tracking and it would allow trusted scribers to the information pay for the tracking data? Isn't that their normal approach to their advertising services?</p>

  • red.radar

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 11:19 am

    <p>Call me a cynic. </p><p><br></p><p>This is about consolidating and fortifying the ability to track through the next generation of mechanisms. Google wants to ensure they hold the keys so they release good sounding PR that is nothing but lies so behind the scene they can make their move. </p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

    • dashrender

      Premium Member
      03 March, 2021 - 4:46 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#616270"><em>In reply to red.radar:</em></a>And while it’s unclear how Google could ever find a happy middle ground between the needs of those two customers—users and advertisers—</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>^ This…. This is the lie… users of google services are NOT customers, they are the product. UNLESS, you are paying for something of Google's, say like storage in Google Drive, then from a Drive POV, you're a customer – but for gmail, or search or maps, etc -the USER is most definitely NOT a customer, but the product.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><p><br></p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      04 March, 2021 - 9:24 am

      Seems more logical than cynical. You don’t turn your back on 80 percent of your revenues.

  • divodd

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 11:24 am

    <p>Watching the pro-privacy crowd over the last few years work to slowly ruin everything that made the web great by turning it into a world of PlaySkool sandboxes and lonely silos instead of the forefront of data analysis is extremely sad</p>

  • madthinus

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 11:24 am

    <p>Let me summarise: they have figured it out. Having 60% of the web using their Browser is no accident. </p>

  • Calibr21

    03 March, 2021 - 11:56 am

    <p>Somehow I feel the endgame for all the privacy efforts by Apple and Google is that 3rd parties will no longer have access to any type of tracking info to sell, but all that data will be concentrated in the hands of apple and google.</p><p><br></p><p>Once 3rd party competition is eliminated, Apple and Google will now have the data broker business cornered and “responsibly sell” access to that data. </p>

    • simmonm

      03 March, 2021 - 12:10 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#616273" target="_blank"><em>In reply to Calibr21:</em></a></blockquote><p>This seems very likely the intent. Couldn't agree more.</p><p><br></p><p>Privacy is the new 'organically raised'. I don't trust any of these companies any longer.</p>

      • winner

        03 March, 2021 - 12:53 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#616279">In reply to simmonm:</a></em></blockquote><p>Can you provide any examples of when/where Google has lied about its policies?</p>

        • simmonm

          03 March, 2021 - 1:55 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#616291">In reply to Winner:</a></em></blockquote><p>Who me? I never said they lied. I suspect Google follows their user policies to a "T". I just don't trust their intent for "Privacy-first", seems like a sales job for something that is likely for their own self interest.</p>

      • Paul Thurrott

        Premium Member
        04 March, 2021 - 9:22 am

        I like it. “Free range privacy.”

    • Scsekaran

      03 March, 2021 - 12:28 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#616273">In reply to Calibr21:</a></em></blockquote><p>Spot on! Don't trust anyone</p>

    • b6gd

      03 March, 2021 - 1:11 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#616273">In reply to Calibr21:</a></em></blockquote><p>I have no problem with a vendor collecting data on how a user uses their products. After all they should be making the products better so people keep using/buying them. The second they try to sell that data to anyone outside of that data it should be opt in only. </p><p><br></p><p>I really do not see Apple and mostly Microsoft as having an issue with this because they sell actual products and they want to keep that data to themselves to use it.</p><p><br></p><p>Google, Facebook, and all the other "free" services/social media platforms I simply do not trust and in most cases do not use, or use in a really locked down/limited fashion.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

    • nbplopes

      04 March, 2021 - 3:17 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#616273">In reply to Calibr21:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Google is one of the main culprits of this situation. It abused the trust and a system that was basically free to use, non regulated by launching a mass surveillance system that users could not opt out.</p><p><br></p><p>I honestly don’t for care what they want in this context.</p>

  • Stokkolm

    03 March, 2021 - 12:00 pm

    <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.” That's because they've already built them, they're called Chrome, Google Maps, Youtube, etc…</span></p>

  • JerryH

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 12:33 pm

    <p>I don't know that it even matters at this point. It isn't going to help them fix the fact that I can go browse Amazon for say some new running shoes, purchase them, and then get advertisements for those shoes on every web site for the next 6 months. I already bought them! Stupid advertisers – that is what they think are relevant ads. And yet they are ads that have no chance for success since I don't need shoes I already bought.</p>

  • scovious

    03 March, 2021 - 12:52 pm

    <p>This is like trusting China to spearhead human rights. I resent the concept that there are "needs of advertisers" that go beyond what promoters had before the internet.</p>

  • b6gd

    03 March, 2021 - 1:07 pm

    <p>Made me smile :). I opt for a Google Free product selection and I know I am better off making that choice.</p>

  • bmcdonald

    03 March, 2021 - 5:11 pm

    <p>So glad that I ditched Chrome after following some of Paul's advice from last year. I do not mind giving a minimal amount of data to Microsoft via Edge or Office 365 – at least I care and rely on those products as daily drivers.</p><p><br></p><p>But Google? People need to understand what the end game here is and it's certainly not privacy – that's for sure.</p><p><br></p><p>B</p>

  • jlariviere

    03 March, 2021 - 5:32 pm

    <p>Oh, Google, what was your clue? The number of installs of AdBLock, Ghostery, or similar extensions? The number of people enabling the "block malware, tracking, ads" feature of their VPNs? </p>

    • bmcdonald

      03 March, 2021 - 5:40 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#616338">In reply to jlariviere:</a></em></blockquote><p>It may also be the fact that more and more users are dropping Chrome outright and installing something else – due to privacy (and other) concerns. </p>

  • kjb434

    Premium Member
    03 March, 2021 - 10:18 pm

    <p>This is Google corralling everybody to use their advertising services since they fight against all the others existing.</p><p><br></p><p>Google is doing this not further privacy the user. It's doing this to keep users private from everybody else.</p><p><br></p><p>Happily de-Googled my life. </p>

  • Belralph

    03 March, 2021 - 11:50 pm

    <p>Who needs cookies when a vast majority of the internet is using your DNS servers. </p>

  • robincapper

    04 March, 2021 - 1:48 am

    <p>Google Says It Wants a “Privacy-First” Web? <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Start with sorting Android security</span></p>

  • spiderman2

    04 March, 2021 - 4:38 am

    <p>RTOFL … yeah… sure sure sure… LOL</p><p><br></p><p>that's the best joke of the month</p>

  • merlinv

    05 March, 2021 - 9:04 am

    <p>I really can't see Google, Turning its back on what made them rich. This is PR that is expected from a tech giant – so it can try to save face in front of its peers. </p>

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