Google to stop web tracking cookies that track people’s browsing habits – News

US tech giants are under enormous pressure to overhaul the way they collect data.



Published: Tue, Jan 25, 2022, 8:38 PM

Google on Tuesday announced a new plan to stop using small files called cookies to track people’s browsing habits, after its previous proposals were roundly criticized.

US tech giants are under huge pressure to overhaul the way they collect data – Google was fined 150 million euros ($169 million) by France earlier this month over its data policy. of cookies.

Privacy activists have pushed hard against the use of cookies, which often transmit users’ information to dozens of companies each time they visit a website.

But the files are the backbone of the online advertising industry that has proven hugely profitable for Google and its customers.

The company said on Tuesday it would test a new system called “Topics,” which it said would protect privacy while still allowing targeted advertising.

Chrome users will still be tracked and the websites they visit and advertising partners will be assigned three topics – general topics meant to match their interests – based on the user’s browsing history.

However, the company said the topic generation process will take place entirely on the user’s device – not even Google itself will have access to it.

Advertisers will only be able to keep topics for three weeks, and Chrome users will have the option to opt out entirely.

“Topics” replaces an earlier idea launched by Google called “Federated Learning of Cohorts,” which caused consternation among advertisers and the media industry.

Critics said the FLoC system would allow Google to hoard user data for itself and cut third parties out of the loop.

“The topics were informed by our learning and extensive community feedback on our previous FLoC trials, and supersede our proposed FLoC,” said Vinay Goel, senior Google official.

Internet companies have faced tougher rules since the EU passed a massive data privacy law in 2018 requiring companies to seek direct consent from users before setting cookies on their computers.

Privacy activists have filed hundreds of complaints against companies such as Google and Facebook, claiming it is much easier to sign up than to opt out.

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