Google Wednesday addressed the hot-button issue of consumer privacy, explicitly promising not to track peoples’ browsing history in order to feed them ads.
It said Chrome will offer a first iteration of new controls in April.
“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,” wrote David Temkin, Google’s director of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Trust, in a company blog post called “Charting a course towards a more privacy-first web.”
He cited a study by the Pew Research Center that 72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, tech firms or other companies, and 81% say the potential risks they face from data collection outweigh the benefits.
“If digital advertising doesn’t evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web,” he said.
He said Google’s web products will be powered by “privacy-preserving APIs” that prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers. Many in ad-tech are phasing out third-party cookies (which show browsing history) but some are finding workarounds. “Today, 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, nor will we use them in our products,” Temkin said.
Ruth Porat, CFO of Google and its parent Alphabet will be speaking at the Morgan Stanley media conference later today and may address Google’s stance. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg yesterday at the same event talked about how getting users comfortable with targeted advertising is one of the social media giant’s biggest challenges.