The tech giant has announced that third-party cookies will no longer be allowed in the future. So individuals on the Internet should no longer be followed at every turn. But that’s only partially true.
Google has announced the end of third-party cookies.
In the future, it should no longer be possible to track users in this way.
This means that personalized advertisements can no longer be displayed.
To this end, Google will in future be using aggregated and anonymized data to play advertising from third-party providers.
Your own services are not affected by this new regulation.
“But people shouldn’t just have to accept that they are being spied on all over the net in order to get potentially interesting advertisements for them,” writes David Temkin, the director of product management at Google, in a blog post. In fact, studies show that 72 percent of all Internet users feel that they are being persecuted on the Internet, and 81 percent even state that the risks of this persecution are greater than the possible benefits that they personally derive from it.
No alternative to cookies
The step that Google is now taking does not come as a complete surprise. The Internet group announced last year that cookies from third-party providers should be completely blocked in their Chrome browser by 2022 at the latest – as has been the case with other browsers such as Firefox or Safari for years. Now, however, Google is going one step further and promising not to develop an alternative that could replace third-party cookies.
“Once all third-party cookies are gone, we will not provide any other identifiers that individuals can track while they surf the Internet,” promises Temkin. However, in order to be able to continue selling advertising, Google will increasingly rely on aggregated and anonymized data of its users.
A cookie is information that is stored on a user’s device when they visit a website. If this website is visited again at a later point in time, the page will recognize the user based on the stored cookies. These cookies can be used, for example, to save a login or a shopping cart at an online retailer, but also for targeted advertising.
In the future, cookies are to be replaced by a new technology called “Federated Learning of Cohorts” or FLoC for short. Internet users are grouped into larger groups based on their interests and can be used with advertising on the basis of these groups. The tracking is no longer based on the individual but on the whole group. According to Google, advertisers should be able to achieve a similarly large return on investment using FLoCs as before with cookies, and FLoCs are already being tested together with the first partners.
Google decided to take this step because the pressure from regulators regarding the privacy of users on the Internet has increased steadily in recent years. The decision is welcomed by various consumer groups such as public knowledge. Its director, Greg Guice, told Vice.com: “We appreciate that Google has made a public commitment to put an end to tracking on the Internet.”
No tracking stop
It should not be overlooked, however, that the new regulation applies exclusively to third-party websites. Google’s own products such as Gmail, Youtube or Google search may continue to collect information about their users. In addition, the step will initially only be carried out on websites, not on smartphones. This means that Google itself does not have to reckon with any major losses from this new regulation. The situation is different for advertising companies that previously relied on cookies to distribute their advertising.
Google is not alone in its decision. Apple announced last year that they too wanted to radically change advertising tracking and make it more transparent. With the app tracking transparency function, app developers will in future have to obtain user permission before tracking data across apps or sites from other companies. Users can then see in the settings which apps have permission for tracking and withdraw it from them again. There is also the option to completely stop tracking.
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