back to article Google postpones Chrome's third-party cookie bonfire yet again

Google says it needs more time to build and test its ostensibly privacy-preserving ad technology, marketed as the "Privacy Sandbox." So the ad biz has delayed its previous plan to block privacy-pilfering third-party cookies in Chrome until 2024. Back in January 2020, the internet search giant announced its intention to phase …

  1. pavel.petrman Silver badge

    Re Third parties

    Google seem to consider everyone on the Internet to be a third party to themselves and their useds*. Whereas other big companies (Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Cloudflare et al) tend to build and expand their own very high walled gardens, Google are hell bent on privatizing the whole Internet for themselves, at no monetary or social responsibility costs wherever possible.

    To me Google looks like Standard Oil a hundred years ago: a company which brought about a huge change to everyone's lifestyle, improving lives of people while employing questionable business and ethical practices, getting slapped on a wrist here and there, slowly growing to a size and power too big to manage (from the civil perspective). And, most importantly, ripe for a breakup. With search, omnipresent ads, means for lazy and inept developers to spice up their webpages, Android and Chrome under one roof, the company is a disaster waiting to happen. With Android and Chrome separated legally from the current state-of-the-hydra, the risks just might become manageable again. And, if the example of Standard Oil breakup could be replicated, I, for one, would not object to the financial benefits to current stake holders of such legal action (iirc Rockefeller family's fortune increased tenfold after the breakup of Standard Oil to the many separate legal entities).

    ---

    * I got the term 'used' from Stallmann: "We call them 'useds' rather than 'users' because Facebook is using them, not vice versa."

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Tracking addict to postpone becoming clean.

    Where have we heard that before. Shouldn't the USA now declare "War on Tracking"?

    1. Lon24 Silver badge

      First you have to win the 'War on Corporate Lobbying'. Good luck with that.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "instead of making the hard changes needed to become truly private shutting down its advertising revenue entirely, [..]"

    TFTFY

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I got bored with waiting for Google to turn off 3rd party cookies in Chrome so I disabled them myself from the settings about 6 months ago, and never really noticed much of an issue on most websites. Although i do the bulk of my browsing using Firefox and Chrome is just there for when sites won't work correct in FF.

    1. iron Silver badge

      I turned off third party cookies in Netscape and IE4 and they have been off since.

      You do not need 3rd party cookies to browse the web.

      Nothing of value breaks.

      (Social media sites have no value so I have no idea if it breaks Facebook, Twitter, et al.)

      1. Jim Whitaker

        I find it difficult to believe that there is any reader of this site who has not turned off third party cookies about 20 years ago.

        1. Dinanziame Silver badge
          Windows

          I actually thought they turned themselves off a couple of years back — one website I use started failing because their login was handled by a separate domain.

          I never bothered to turn off anything myself though. I've made my peace with websites having ads to survive, and if I'm going to see ads it might as well be ads that are relevant to me. My life is so boring that I'd be flattered if anybody was interested in my secrets.

  5. Wade Burchette

    LIAR

    "Google remains determined to preserve its ability to target ads, which the advertising behemoth self-servingly insists are necessary to keep the internet free."

    When I see this statement, I feel like shouting "LIAR! LIAR!" to Google much like Mad Max's wife did to him in the Princess Bride. The internet went from luxury to necessity with static ads that did not track you. If it worked once, it can work again.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: LIAR

      *Miracle Max

      You're thinking of the terrible and little-known sequel, Mad Max: As You Wish.

      1. MrDamage Silver badge

        Re: LIAR

        Featuring: The Dread Road Warrior Rockatansky.

  6. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Dear website owner

    "website owners and publishers to use to get an idea of the netizens visiting their pages so that they can be targeted with ads."

    If your website is about cars, I can tell you that your visitors will be interested in cars. If you run a cooking show, your visitors will be interested in cooking.

    Knowing that, it makes no difference to you if the viewer is a 39 year old man from Manchester, or a 27 year old woman from Worcester.

    The need to see analytics is a data fetish - if you love all those weird stats, admit that - don't pretend there is some real world value in them. - At least, not enough to help dictate editorial decisions. Besides, your website is crap if you are chasing the lowest common denominator just for clicks.

    Now, with "old TV", adverts are shown, and the only demographic information the advertisers get is based on the time of the advert, and the programme the advert is sandwiched between. This data is readily available to you guys without any sort of tracking. In addition, you get to see page impressions - how do the TV advertisers survive without such data, huh?

    1. MatthewSt

      Re: Dear website owner

      Not defending Google's stance here, but I'd be inclined to believe that a company making billions out of selling ads probably wouldn't be making billions if they didn't do the tracking.

      Yes you can tell that a visitor to a website about cars likes cars, but are you going to sell them a mid-life crisis sports car or a family hatchback? Maybe the ads don't want to be for cars at all, as if they're interested in cars then chances are they might already have a car. They might be interested in going to F1. Or insurance. The whole point of tracking is that you're not chasing it just for clicks. As strange as it sounds, advertisers actually want to sell the products that they're advertising, otherwise they're just wasting money. It's in their best interest for the ads to be relevant.

      As for TV programming, where do you think the information about the demographics came from? It came from people being asked what they watched and volunteering that kind of tracking information. The broadcasters don't just say "Death in Paradise is on at 9pm, go work it out for yourselves".

      1. Lon24 Silver badge

        Re: Dear website owner

        The fallacy here is some of us don't want to see your adverts. That's in itself trackable when you use pi-hole and cookie blockers. So why do some website owners waste your money on trying to force me to to see them? It doesn't take a child genius to work out that such obstinacy is more likely to damage your brand than make a sale.

        I only wish all trackers were smart enough to sort that. Then I might not be so keen on trapping them. Winners all round.

        1. MatthewSt

          Re: Dear website owner

          Agreed. ZDNet is a site that I no longer read because the ads sap CPU and bandwidth.

        2. MrDamage Silver badge

          Re: Dear website owner

          "This website is best viewed with ad-block disabled" usually means "You cannot make sense of this website with ad-block disabled."

          1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

            Re: Dear website owner

            I've never found that the huge blank spaces in the middle of stories to be a problem. Huge distracting ads in the middle of a story, on the other hand, coupled with huge download delays...

            On the other hand...I've missed out on stuff and never been back to the site again, because the ad overload was so bad I couldn't get what I was there for to begin with. And make no mistake - if I don't get what I want from a site, I WON'T BE BACK and if I'm not seeing your ads, you aren't getting paid to display them. Go back to the sidebar ads that don't interfere with content, and I won't bother blocking them. Hell, I might even click on them although the next time I click on an ad will be the first time. But as long as the ads are intrusive, I'll block without a second thought.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Dear website owner

        @MatthewSt

        The ads are often not very relevant to the site I am looking at (typically totally unrelated) - ads typically seem to be far more based on what they "think" my interests are, rather than the content of the site I am looking at.

        This may be because a lot of the sites I generally visit are not focused on selling stuff but are information centric sites so ads may be skewed based on my smaller number of visits to retail sites & stuff I have looked at there.

        .. Though those comments only based on sites I visit via phone using 3/4g network, when on home wifi network a lot of ad related stuff is blocked for a better browsing experience

        1. MatthewSt

          Re: Dear website owner

          Yes, that's what I was trying to explain. The OP was saying that if you're on a car website then you're interested in cars so why do they need to track you.

      3. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Dear website owner

        ..advertisers actually want to sell the products that they're advertising..

        Wrong. Advertisers don't give a flying fck if you buy something. They get the money from the sucker paying and show the ads to suckers who don't block them.

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          Re: Dear website owner

          Protip: Switch off your ad-blocking for an hour. Google bikini pictures (or speedos if so inclined), re-enable ad-blocking. Any ads that make it through your blocking regime in future, will likely be a picture of an attractive person in swimwear, and thus not a fully unpleasant annoyance

      4. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Dear website owner

        Wrongo. Car dealers want to sell cars. Washing machine sellers want to sell washing machines. Advertisers are only selling ads. It's a happy accident to them if an ad results in a sale for the person buying the ad but make no mistake - once the AD is sold, the ADVERTISER'S job is done - he's been paid. What happens afterward is no concern of the ad seller, so long as there is someone to buy another ad.

      5. LDS Silver badge

        "wouldn't be making billions if they didn't do the tracking."

        The correct sentence is "wouldn't be making billions if they didn't make you believe the tracking is working".

        Their whole business is built on the assumption that targeting built on tracking works - and that it can even make people buy what they would not. Just you don't have a way to assess it independently - you have to believe them because they do the tracking, targeting and analysis.

        They need to make you believe, because that puts them at a competitive advantage because "we have the data and can collect more, our competitors do not". If it turns out that contextual or even random ads work the same or even better - they lose everything. Contextual advertising would put the power into site owners' hands - it would keep the Internet "free" anyway, but most of the money won't go to Google (and a few others) anymore.

        "here do you think the information about the demographics came from?" - and that's contextual advertising, probably you're not going to advertise sport cars in a show for ageing housewives. Get a site of "men's health" and you probably have the right demographic for sport cars as well.

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: "wouldn't be making billions if they didn't do the tracking."

          Let me be the first* to dispel that notion then - targeted advertising DOES NOT WORK. I already bought a car. I already bought a washing machine. I already bought insert-item-here. I won't be buying another one for years to come. What I need to see is an ad for something I don't know exists, not for something I already own. Targeted advertising specifically does not show me what I haven't already searched for and probably bought 5 minutes later.

          * More llke the billionth, not first.

    2. Proton_badger

      Re: Dear website owner

      I think you vastly underestimate what they can learn about us. It's at the point where they can almost tell a woman is pregnant before she knows it herself. Things like people's political leanings, religion, sexuality and similar is easy to find out and add to their shadow profile.

      A Google executive once said "We know almost everything you've done since the day you first went online."

      It's like the people who say "I never clicked through/an ad never made me go out and buy the product!" - they are completely unknowing about how the ads permeating our society influence our subconscious and our purchasing decisions way down the road. Not just buying stuff; people profiled to be wavering between two political parties can be nudged in a particular direction by showing a few seemingly ads about something different and more innocent than politics.

      The effect of using tracking, shadow profiles and other crap is, just like ads, proven and can be measured by the companies involved.

      Sure we see dumb adds often enough, look up power washers for a friend once on Amazon and the web will try to peddle you power washers for months. So we laugh at that, feeling superior and in control, while not noticing the truly pervasive and evil stuff.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "The effect of using tracking, shadow profiles and other crap is, just like ads, proven"

        Propaganda is a quite old "art". They invented nothing new. They just perform it a bigger scale, and believe the more data points they have the more effective they can make it. But some choices are easier to drive than others. Political choices are often just a few - and have no direct monetary costs (for the voter). Politicians know that since the invention of politics. Divisive contents are easier to use to raise discord than having people buy your product among many similar ones.

        Other kinds of choices are more difficult to drive. Of course if you can discover enough weakness in people, and among them the weaker ones - if they let you do - psycho-tactics to influence their behaviors are not new as well, and have been known for a long time. Fraudsters have been using them for ages.

        But that brings us to the real point - being able to target people is dangerous. Even if a relatively small percentage is sensitive to it, it's could be still enough to be used to create havoc - intentionally or not. And because the low-hanging fruits are those easier to monetize, that's what they'll do.

        Dangerous enough that data collection must be forbidden. In Google's minds, "privacy sandbox" means to put privacy into a sandbox and ensure it never grows and stays forever there as a little child playing with sand.

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    the web can continue to thrive, without relying on covert techniques

    The web would have thrived very easily without these features. And it will continue to do so without them, as its core functionality does not rely on them at all. Whether large tech companies remain as profitable is another matter altogether, but remember that eventually laws had to be passed to stop bakers using sawdust as the primary ingredient in their loaves, as the promised self regulation against abuse of customers never actually happened - a bit like here where Google is conveniently finding removing these features to be an almost insurmountable technical challenge that will apparently take this huge company with thousands of expert developers many many years to solve.

    1. Jim Whitaker

      Re: the web can continue to thrive, without relying on covert techniques

      Yes, but in the old days, killing bakers who did this usually brought matters under control. My up to date version is to use an adblocker.

  8. EricB123 Bronze badge

    There's a Song for This

    As Ziegler and Evens sang long ago, "In The Year 2525"

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