Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Don’t Play in Google’s Privacy Sandbox

Bennett Cyphers, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on Google’s proposals for privacy standards on the web:

As a result, Google has apparently decided to defend its business model on two fronts. First, it’s continuing to argue that third-party cookies are actually fine, and companies like Apple and Mozilla who would restrict trackers’ access to user data will end up harming user privacy. This argument is absurd. But unfortunately, as long as Chrome remains the most popular browser in the world, Google will be able to single-handedly dictate whether cookies remain a viable option for tracking most users.

At the same time, Google seems to be hedging its bets. The “Privacy Sandbox” proposals for conversion measurement, FLoC, and PIGIN are each aimed at replacing one of the existing ways that third-party cookies are used for targeted ads. Google is brainstorming ways to continue serving targeted ads in a post-third-party-cookie world. If cookies go the way of the pop-up ad, Google’s targeting business will continue as usual.

I would love a world in which the biggest privacy offenders have figured out that their business model is fundamentally objectionable and are radically transformed to become privacy leaders instead. I’m not a cynic, but I believe that hoping for that is unearned optimism. Even something as simple as building lightweight webpages is a twisted attempt at control over the web. Google is a skeevy advertising company masquerading as a purveyor of high technology.