No more 3rd party cookies, means no more online tracking. Right?

When one of the biggest digital advertising companies in the world, announces that it has made the decision to eliminate the use of third-party cookies, the key piece of technology that a $330B (US) a year industry relies upon to function, it’s hard not to notice. Even harder is to not ask the obvious question… why? Is Google’s decision to remove a key piece of tech, which is the main contributing factor to one of the company’s strongest revenue streams, really for the greater good? 

On face-value, the decision looks like a positive one. David Temkin, Google’s director of product management for ads privacy and trust noted, “Keeping the internet open and accessible requires all of us to do more to protect privacy”, falling very much in-tune with the recent public push for higher measures around privacy. Read a little further and not all is as it seems.

“However, Google will still allow its advertising customers to target users across its range of services – from YouTube to Gmail and Search…” Digiday reported. So, what exactly changes? The tech giant will continue to earn record profits on the data you contribute. Isn’t it time ask where your share is? 

By implementing ‘cohorts’ as part of the initial changes, Google starts the process to effectively begin deanonymizing anonymous data. As this process matures and data begins to flow within the walls of Google’s environment, the privacy that this change is meant to bring, starts to erode for the users that remain within this walled garden.

It’s akin to grouping a school into classes. In the whole school there may be many people called Sarah. But once the school is grouped into classes, how many people are in a class called Sarah, that have blonde hair and a penchant for ice cream?

This isn’t control for the users. In fact, it’s simply more power for Google. Privacy only changes when users have real visibility and control. And putting users in ‘buckets’ does nothing to truly address this. For too long, we as the general-public, have put big tech in the driver’s seat when it comes to our privacy and control of data. As big tech starts to make significant decisions regarding its practices, we too will all have significant decisions to make with how much we value our privacy, control and browsing experience. 

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