New Google Initiative Limits Tracking Of Web Users

Google Wants To Limit The Way Sites Track People

Google said it wants to limit how marketers and advertisers track people online, according to a report.

The company is proposing a change to how cookies work in its web browser Chrome, so that it would make it easier for users to block the tracking. 

This could mean that eventually a user would be able to have a little more control over how they are tracked on the internet. Google mentioned the idea of a “Privacy Sandbox” which would let someone be able to do some personalization on the web while privacy is still protected. 

“We have a great reputation on security. […] I feel the way we earned that reputation was by really moving the web forward,” said Justin Schuh, Google’s engineering director for Chrome security and privacy. “We provided a lot of benefits, worked on a lot of different fronts. What we’re trying to do today is basically do the same thing for privacy: have the same kind of big, bold vision for how we think privacy should work on the web, how we should make browsers and the web more private by default.”

The technical aspects of the issue are somewhat complicated, but Google is saying that it wants to stop advertisers being able to identify a machine’s “fingerprint,” which make a person uniquely identifiable. 

Google’s idea is called a “privacy budget,” which means that websites can only make so many API calls for information, which would let them get enough but not so much that a person’s anonymity is lost. Once the budget has been exhausted, the browser would stop responding.

While some browsers already employ this kind of restrictive cookie blocking, Google argues that there needs to be a standard that’s developed from everyone in all spaces of the industry. 

“The other browser vendors, for the most part, we think really are committed to an open web,” said Schuh. “There’s definitely been a lot of not intentional misinformation — but just incorrect data — about how sites monetize and how publishers are actually funded.” 

Right now, it’s simply a proposal and not an imperative — but the ideas could come to fruition fairly soon.