Google says won’t replace third-party cookies with alternative user tracking tech on Chrome

Google has said that it doesn’t plan to replace third-party cookies with any other form of personal tracking technology on its Chrome browser. Third-party cookies are used to track user behaviour across the web. In January, Google had said it had plans to phase out support for third-party cookies, though this is expected to take place over the next two years. Apple’s Safari browser and Mozilla’s Firefox browser have already announced plans to phase out third-party cookies.

In a new blog post, David Temkin, Director of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Trust makes it absolutely clear that Google will “not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will it use them in its products.”

According to Temkin, while Google has announced plans to help protect user anonymity, it continues to get questions on whether they will “join others in the ad tech industry who plan to replace third-party cookies with alternative user-level identifiers.”

The post adds that while the industry has tried to offer relevant advertisements to consumers, the manner in which it has been done has led to a general erosion of trust.

It cites data from Pew Research Centre which shows that “72 percent of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies.” Another 81 percent say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits, adds the blog.

Regarding alternative trackers, Google says that these solutions are unlikely to “meet rising consumer expectations for privacy.” Further the post notes that they will likely struggle to hold up against “rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions,” and the company does not consider them as a “sustainable long term investment.”

The post adds that Google’s “web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.”

“People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don’t need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising,” Temkin writes.

According to Google, there have been several “advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies, which offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers.”

Google Chrome and FLoCs

Back in January, Google had announced it was testing out Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) as one way for advertising. In FLoC, the idea is to cluster large groups of people with similar interests, rather than track individual interests.

Google says that their latest tests of FLoC show are “one way to effectively take third-party cookies out of the advertising equation and instead hide individuals within large crowds of people with common interests.”

It will make FLoC-based cohorts available for public testing through origin trials with Chrome’s next release this month. It also expects to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers in Google Ads in Q2.

Chrome also will offer the first iteration of new user controls in April, according to the blog and will expand on these controls in future releases. Google says it will continue to support first-party relationships on its ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers.

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