Google: Cookies Not Enough! More More More!

April 6, 2021

Cookies are a necessary Internet evil. They are annoying, but they power Internet commerce at the expense of user privacy. And users demand more privacy, tech giants are already designing technology and the Internet for a post-cookie world. Google, says One Zero via Medium, wants to control everything a user does on the Internet: “Google’s ‘Privacy-First Web’ Is Really A Google-First Web.”

Google promised that third-party cookies would disappear by 2022. The company also promises not to support ad technology that tracks user information across the Web. Google is not doing this to be kind, instead Google wants to be a become a better contender in private Internet browsing. Apple and Mozilla, companies that do not rely on targeted advertising revenue, already protect users from cookies with their Internet browsers.

Google’s business strategy is to use its status as the world’s most popular search engine and provider of many free Internet services to its advantage. That means Google has access to loads of first-party data aka the stuff that advertisers want to create targeted ads.

Google is also working on alternate tracking frameworks, but some tech experts see it as a bad idea. These alternate tracking frameworks would delete the old cookie problems and replace them with a brand new set of problems.

It appears cookies will become obsolete by the middle of the 2020s, but how does that translate into money and user privacy?

“Merits aside, it’s clear that Google is positioning itself for a more privacy-conscious future in ways that seek to preserve its dominance — likely at the expense of a slew of smaller rivals. There is a whole value chain built around third-party cookies and individual user tracking, and a lot of that value is likely to go poof…. The big picture here is that a handful of giants — in this case, Apple and Google — are powerful enough to essentially dictate the terms of the modern internet to everyone else. That they’re now moving toward models that are (arguably) better for consumer privacy is welcome. The problem is that they’re also quite obviously remolding the playing field in their own interests.”

Users will effectively have better privacy protections, but their information will be in the hands of a few powerful companies. Is that good? Is that bad? History shows it is better for there to be competition to ensure stability in a mixed capitalist economy.

Whitney Grace, April 6, 2021

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