Today, many browsers allow you to block so-called “third-party” cookies, those that allow advertising networks to track you between multiple websites, and therefore use your browsing history to display more relevant advertisements. And even Google intends to block this type of tracer.
However, before blocking third-party cookies on Chrome, Google will deploy alternative technologies first, in order to satisfy users with regard to the confidentiality of personal data, while allowing companies to continue to monetize their sites and applications with advertising. This initiative is called Privacy Sandbox and it does not only concern websites on Google Chrome, but also Android applications, since the company also intends to crack down on advertising IDs used by app developers.
At first, Google came up with a technology called FLoC. But this was not unanimous. And after much criticism, Google finally abandoned this project, in favor of a new technology called Topics.
While third-party cookies allow advertising networks to individually track the Internet user, Topics analyzes browsing history in order to associate Topics or subjects with the user. History processing is done locally on Chrome, without transferring data to servers. And it is the Topics, which reflect the centers of interest of the Internet user, which are communicated to the advertising networks in order to display ads corresponding to these centers of interest.
Google’s new proposal still does not satisfy DuckDuckGo
Unfortunately for Google, this new proposal is still not unanimous. For example, the search engine DuckDuckGo, which offers a service without user tracking, has just published a blog post urging Internet users to block Privacy Sandbox tests on Chrome (either by going to Chrome’s settings or by installing an extension).
“This targeting, however it is done, allows for manipulation (e.g. exploitation of personal vulnerabilities), discrimination (e.g. people who do not see job opportunities based on profiles personal) and filter bubbles (e.g. creating echo chambers that can divide people) that many people would like to avoid”justifies the search engine.
DuckDuckGo also believes that, associated with elements such as the IP address, these Topics could also be used as new variables to track an Internet user through fingerprinting (tracking an Internet user thanks to his fingerprint, generated by elements such as IP address or the characteristics of his machine). Finally, the Google competitor also thinks that some Topics could be too sensitive.
And DuckDuckGo also opposes FLEDGE, another technology proposed by Google which is presented as a more privacy-friendly alternative to retargeting. “A solution for remarketing use cases, designed not to be used by third parties to track users’ browsing behavior across sites”can we read on the Google website.
“People are, on the whole, adamantly opposed to retargeting advertising and find it intrusive and scary. Because your browsing history is used to target you, just like Topics, it exposes you to the same type of manipulation, discrimination, and potential embarrassment of highly personal ads served through your browser, and also works without your consent”writes DuckDuckGo about FLEDGE.
In any case, since DuckDuckGo is often considered the anti-Google, since it offers a search engine without tracking Internet users, its opinion will certainly be taken into account by those who are concerned about the security of their data in line.