Google to STOP selling ads based on tracking your online movements

GOOGLE has vowed to stop selling ads based on your browsing history across multiple websites.

The shock change to Google ads will start next year – and is a major boost for user privacy.

Right now, Google can track you across the internet in the Chrome browser.

When you browse various websites, digital cookies can log your movements.

This data is then scooped up and used to sell you personalised ads.

For a long time, Google and other advertisers have argued that seeing more relevant ads is better for users.

But privacy campaigners have insisted that the level of tracking is now too pervasive – following your every move across the web.

"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," said Google's David Temkin.

"This has led to an erosion of trust."

Apple made an early stand, regularly updating Safari on iOS and Mac to resist these tracking technologies.

Now Google has relented, and will halt its own tracking systems on Chrome.

And the system won't be replaced with different tracking methods either.

"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," said Temkin.

"Nor will we use them in our products."

Google and third-party cookies explained

Here’s what you need to know…

  • Most privacy complaints about online advertising relate to third-party cookies
  • When you use Google Chrome to browse the web, you're being watched
  • Most websites will add a "cookie" to your device when you visit them
  • These cookies are little pieces of code that can track your movements across the web
  • A first-party cookie sends your browsing data to the website you're viewing currently
  • But a third-party cookie is more insidious, sending all of the data back to a different website
  • If you looked at a snowboard one week, and then see an ad for it the next on a totally different website, that's the system in action
  • You have to accept "cookies" when you visit a website for the first time
  • But most users will mindlessly accept them, wrapping them up in a growing web of online tracking
  • These cookies are used to build up a profile on your web history, interests, lifestyle and more
  • And this data is sold and re-sold around the advertising and marketing industries

The change will only affect the Google Chrome web browser at first – and not apps.

Google will still be track you through and across apps like Maps and YouTube.

But it's possible – and even likely – that Google will roll this change out more widely in the future.

The move is certain to upend a significant portion of the online advertising industry.

Google carved out a 52% share of digital ad spending globally in 2020, according to Jounce Media.

That share is valued at a staggering $152billion.

Of course, Google isn't quitting the ad industry.

Instead it plans to invest in new "privacy sandbox" technologies.

The aim is to serve useful advertising without tracking you across the web.

One system would analyse your browsing on your own device, rather than in the cloud.

This data could then be used for advertisers to target larger groups of people with shared interests – rather than specific individuals.

In other news, Twitter has launched paid subscriptions that let you charge followers to see your "exclusive" posts.

Apple could be releasing as many as nine new iPhones this year, according to rumours.

And, WhatsApp is having another go at getting all users to accept controversial new privacy terms.

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