back to article EFF urges Chrome users to get out of the Privacy Sandbox

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has urged folks to switch off several Privacy Sandbox settings in Google Chrome to mask their online habits, or to consider switching to Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari. Chrome's Privacy Sandbox is neither private – preventing one from being observed – nor a sandbox – an environment in which …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If I don't want adverts thrust in my face there are NO relevant adverts. Any which are shown to me are liable to bias me away from whatever product is being pushed should that product class subsequently become relevant.

    The only time ads become relevant is when I'm explicitly searching for something. If I search for excavation report of Ballygobackwards horned cairn adverts for hotels wouldn't be relevant. If I search for hotels near Ballygobackwards they would. If I were to get an hotel ad in response to the first it would bias me away from that hotel on its appearance in response to the second.

    It is, of course, not in the advertising industry's interests to understand this. It would be very much in the advertisers' interest to understand it, however, and to insist that the advertising industry take note; unfortunately narcissism is likely to imped this.

    1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      I agree that the efficacy of banner ads is doubtful, but businesses are still spending copious amounts of money on it nonetheless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's IMHO partly because the cartel-like hold on the advertising industry by the likes of Google et al - a bit like Microsoft of old, they stop innovation.

        You'd think there would be scope to set up a new ad provider which is a bit less greedy and less privacy invasive, but apparently not.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there a local database involved ?

    Maybe a bit of code to piss in it ?

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Is there a local database involved ?

      Are you thinking little Billy 'Drop Tables' Smith?

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Is there a local database involved ?

      Sure, we could probably compile a new version of Chrome that always says we're interested in the same three categories and get everyone to use it. I was going to suggest 1, 2, and 3, but 2 and 3 don't exist because whoever made this list may not understand how serial numbers work. If we're going to do that, we'll have to decide pretty quickly what our three magic ones will be, or we'll end up dividing the users unnecessarily.

      The problem is that it won't really help for three reasons:

      1. Anyone who is willing to use that version is likely not to be using Chrome in the first place. How much pollution can we cause if we're all using Firefox or even one of the non-Chrome Chromiums which don't have this yet?

      2. Google will still have all the data they ever did and will be using that, not the new topics thing, to target their ads and tracking.

      3. Advertisers won't give up on any of their tracking to use this. Honestly, it's pretty useless from the advertisers' perspective and they won't have any reason to use it. For example, there's a topic ID for tracking people interested in vacation services, but there are no topic IDs for where they want to go. If your business is advertising to people for a certain destination, that's next to useless. Paying to advertise your vacation package to Australia will be much less likely to work if you're targeting vacations in general than if you can target people who recently visited a site about travel to Australia (or, since they're not very good at tracking despite the effort, someone who recently did anything at all related to Australia). I'm sure they'll have some people look into the system to see if they can use it to track the users more, but they're not going to abandon their tactics for something less useful.

  3. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    MRDA?

    《Google contends the EFF is just spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt. "We believe the safe use of data can improve user experiences,"》

    To paraphrase the delightful Ms Rice-Davies "They would say that would they."

    Perhaps big G actually meant the EFF is just spreading (well founded) fear, (understandable) uncertainty, and (reasonable) doubt.

    My being able to definitively specify that Google is not to use my data would definitely improve my experience.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google is not to use my data

      Step 1: Setup a firewall.

      Step 2: Use said firewall to block all access to google.com, google.co.uk etc (add all AMZN and MSFT IP's as well for good measure)

      Step 3: Stop using Google for anything and I mean anything. There are alternatives that don't spy on you and sling ad back at you.

      You know it makes sense.

      1. Evil Scot

        Re: Google is not to use my data

        To which some websites say "It looks like you are using an Adblocker please disable it for this site."

        I either click the "It is Disabled" link or the back button. When they discover my fruity solution to the tracking issue.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: Google is not to use my data

          Some websites seem to insist there's an adblocker on even if you temporarily turn it off - Daily Mail is one, but I reckon I can survive without occasionally looking at what they are currently getting wound up about!

        2. TimMaher Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: fruity solution

          Would that be “blowing them a raspberry “? Pi of course.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: MRDA?

      Re "We believe the safe use of data can improve user experiences,"

      Don’t you love the non sequitur, that people can agree with yet Google’s interpretation and implementation of this in its sandbox is totally at odds with the reasons for using a sandbox.

  4. apdxb

    Who remembers...

    ...the "don't be evil" motto?

    1. Ozzard
      Stop

      Re: Who remembers...

      Google's three word motto: "Publicly Traded Company".

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Who remembers...

        In thought it was "Merged With DoubleClick". Oh, wait, that's the three word source of the problem.

      2. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Who remembers...

        The death of Capitalism is its continuous drive for more and more profits. Why can't shareholders be complacent with the profits they already reap from stocks like Google or Meta? After a while this drive will lead to enshittification of the product and eventually the demise of the company.

    2. BartyFartsLast

      Re: Who remembers...

      Not Google.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who remembers...

      Pepperidge Farm Remembers

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who remembers...

        ... when certain folk weren't allowed to vote...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Monopoly law backfires hard

    Google couldn't care less about Topics because they already get everything they want for personalisation from people using Google Accounts, Google Search, YouTube etc. It's actually governments across the world which forced them to try implementing things like this, by threatening them with penalties if they didn't come up with a solution to the impending implosion of the personalised online advertising industry.

    Regulators really need to butt out and allow the disabling of third-party cookies by default without any equivalent replacement, like Google originally planned.

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Monopoly law backfires hard

      Or the online advertising industry could just accept that this privacy invading tracking bullshit really doesn't gain them that much. Somehow companies were very successful even before the Internet was a thing. Even before electricity was a thing. It requires a little extra thought on the part of your marketing department, but you can effectively target people in other ways. Ever notice how many commercials there are for golf clubs and golf balls during golf tournaments on TV? Could it maybe be that people who watch golf on TV are likely to play golf themselves and so may be interested in new clubs or balls?

      Do they just not teach the 80/20 rule in business schools anymore or something? The fact that around 80% of your revenue is going to come from about 20% of your customers, and that there's little point chasing after the rest. If they come in and buy something, great, but you basically lose money trying to court these people. All this targeted advertising nonsense is just that: nonsense. It doesn't change this fundamental aspect of business. Find where those 20% of your customers are, focus your ad spend there, and the rest will largely take care of itself.

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Monopoly law backfires hard

        Damn straight. As this guy points out, dumb ads paid for the batmobile.

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Monopoly law backfires hard

        “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” - John Wanamaker

        The big advantage of digital channels over traditional media is that answering the above question is very easy. This campaign gave a strong ROI, this campaign gave a weak ROI. That means you either move budget to the campaign with a strong ROI or attempt to improve the lot of the other campaign.

        It's possible (and easy) to say "We sell golfing equipment, so we are happy paying more money for ad space on golfingtoday.com than on other sites".

        The trend over the past 15 years or so, however, has been to move from purely site-based topic selection (and a lot of consolidation of the major ad brokers over that time into just a few companies) to user-based topic selection. We know that this person is interested in golf and luxury cars, so they probably have more money than they know what to sensibly do with, so let's try ads for expensive whisky as they obviously have no taste.

        It's not that basic stuff like the 80/20 rule isn't a thing, it's that the feedback loop on what works and what doesn't work is at most 1 week long and you should never underestimate how quickly things grow in complexity, especially when money is involved.

        It's also, frankly, completely wrong to suggest that the privacy invading tracking bullshit doesn't gain us that much. As much as you might like to think we are, we aren't stupid. If it didn't gain us much, we wouldn't use it. When new tech comes along or Google releases a new feature or campaign type, we test it properly and if it doesn't help, we don't use it.

        So here's the deal. You can accept that it's more complicated than you think because you aren't in the world day in day out, and I'll admit that I work for an evil industry that aggressively supports the late-stage capitalism dystopia that we're all living in. Okay?

        1. call-me-mark

          “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

          I know which half: it's the half of your money that the agency spent advertising itself to other potential clients and trying to win industry awards. It might be wasted in your eyes but the agency feels it's an essential part of their work.

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

            Well... no - the paper trail for digital ad spend is robust at every level, and the ad spend itself tends to be billed directly from e.g. Google to the client, so there's very little opportunity for an agency to cook the books.

            The money you are claiming as being wasted is the agency fee, which is a separate pot and, given how beancounters are, would only be paid if the agency is achieving better results for the Spend+x% or whatever the contract terms are than the client would be able to do for themselves.

            While you may not respect the skills involved, I've seen too many accounts tank because the client went in-house or moved to a cheaper agency who then provided exactly what they were being paid for. It looks remarkably like a lot of On Call articles where somebody important in IT is laid off and chaos ensues at the place that laid them off.

        2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

          Re: Monopoly law backfires hard

          The amusing thing is that he thought only half was being wasted!

        3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Monopoly law backfires hard

          You sound very sensible. Except...

          I was at Google, 2015-6. During a TGIF (weekly all-handsy kind of thing), one of the leaders of ad team related that someone had asked, "why don't we provide ROI numbers to our advertisers?", and started to implement it. Fairly quickly, the response "NO" came down from on high.

          Google KNOWS that the ROI < 1 for these ads. They actually lost, at the low level, the institutional memory.

          See the Fat Web talk. The ad companies advertise themselves to other companies first. Once they make the sale, then they sell their client to the customer. If you can believe that ads talk consumers into buying things that are no good, then believe that these same folks can talk businesses into wasting money on their product.

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Monopoly law backfires hard

            We calculate ROI ourselves.

            It actually doesn't make sense to take the ROI number from an ad provider (Facebook/Meta Ads, Google Ads, Microsoft Ads) as it's based upon flawed data from the platform specific tags[1]. These sorts of tags only see the journeys that they're (a) part of and (b) they claim that if they are part of a journey, then they are obviously the sole reason that sale was made.

            A proper tracking provider's tag (Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics) sees everything where the user does accepts nonessential tracking[2] including all the touchpoints of the journey but it doesn't have native access to impressions, clicks and cost data.

            The objectively best and most honest approach to providing the most accurate and best possible data we can[3] is to take the Ad provider's clicks, cost and impressions, combine that with the tracking provider's sales and revenue figures and calculate metrics like ROI from that blend instead.

            [1] Google Ads Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics Tracking are two completely separate entities

            [2] Based upon a correct marketing tag implementation under GDPR

            [3] Believe it or not, it is in our best interests to provide ourselves and the client the best data we can, and considerable effort is put into investigating where our numbers don't line up with hard truth systems like the client's own order fulfilment backend[4]

            [4] We can't use client fulfilment system numbers for sales and revenue as there's no way to link that back to where exactly the sale came from, which is fundamentally critical information when you want to understand the performance of campaign X or channel Y.

  6. Tron Silver badge

    Regulators are indeed a pain in the arse.

    Thanks to them, users have to click a cookie choice pop up on most sites. Training users to click on pop-ups is a really bad idea. All GDPR did was lock European users out of some American sites (notably regional news sites), and begin the deglobalisation of the net on 'privacy' grounds. Regulators are at best a waste of public money and at worst a menace.

    Like most surfers, I really don't give a toss if Google's software knows what interests me.

    Despite decades of 'AI', I haven't noticed any particular relevance in the ads I see. And I'm not blocking any of Google's spytech. So perhaps advertisers need to consider whether they have been getting value for money on the whole 'personalised ad' thing.

    If you want to make ads relevant, you can run with site-relevance (gardening ads on gardening sites) or ask individual users to complete a lifestyle survey that will determine the ads and offers they receive. No tracking required.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Regulators are indeed a pain in the arse.

      You think any if this is about or ever has been really only about ads?

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: Regulators are indeed a pain in the arse.

        Honestly? Yes.

        Google makes a killing from ads, and they've become the most popular ad provider for those in online marketing because of the quality of their targeting and the reach of their platform.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Regulators are indeed a pain in the arse.

      "All GDPR did was lock European users out of some American sites "

      What you mean is that the response of some American* sites to GDPR was to lock themselves out of the European* market.

      * Adopting the OP's usage of the terms.

    3. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: Regulators are indeed a pain in the arse.

      Not the regulators' fault entirely. That's all malicious compliance on the part of the creeps running those sites.

      A bit more appetite for enforcing the regs (otherwise why have them?) would go a long way. Any site that requires more clicks to refuse than accept, or don't have a refuse option, are still breaking the law. A few eye-watering fines would focus minds nicely.

  7. Nate Amsden

    only a matter of time

    before google removes the ability to disable it. Of course if you really cared about privacy then you wouldn't be using Chrome to begin with. Sadly most people don't care(even techies).

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: only a matter of time

      Sadly, it's getting more difficult as more and more sites and applications are taking it upon themselves to dictate users' choice of browser. It's even sadder when FOSS applications start doing this - looking at you, NextCloud.

      1. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: only a matter of time

        I use NC fine with FireFox

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: only a matter of time

          FireFox is your choice of browser. What if, next release they decide the number of FF users isn't worth bothering about? After all, the other choices are all WebKit based.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We recommend that you use Chrome on this site

            I came upon that message yesterday when trying to use the OFGEM (Uk) site.

            It specifically said that the site will not work with Safari and that I should use Chrome. I was using my 3yr old iPhone SE at the time.

            Do these people not get it that iPhones are around 50% of the mobles in use in the UK today?

            I went past the warning and used the site to submit my PHI cert. But honestly, only supporting Chrome is a bad step in my eyes. I wonder if the development of their site was contracted out to Google?

            Chrome is banned on my network and Google.com is blocked at my firewall. The only way you can use it is via a VPN.

  8. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Six of one and half a dozen of the other

    Setting aside advertising itself, telling an advertiser only that "the person viewing this page likes camping, sheep and condoms" is a lot less revealing than what can be had with cookies so I can see where Google are coming from.

    And, having witnessed more than once the EFF pushing hyperbolic 'the sky is falling' nonsense, they no longer have the credibility they once had.

    So, hard to say which side I'm on without more research.

    1. Sora2566 Bronze badge

      Re: Six of one and half a dozen of the other

      The trouble is that Google is saying there are only two choices: third-party cookies or the privacy sandbox. And between them, the sandbox is better... slightly.

      But what the EFF is saying, is that they've left out the choice of "not having targeted ads", which is superior to both by ages.

  9. xyz123 Silver badge

    Personally I'm waiting for google to screw up and show hard core ass to mouth porn on the sesame street website. then I can sue for them "exposing my children to this filth"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      WTF?

      Why would a hardcore ATM porn viewer like you be watching Sesame Street? Or do you let your kids use your computer without having separate kids/adults accounts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WTF?

        > Why would a hardcore ATM porn viewer like you be watching Sesame Street?

        Are you kidding? Have you SEEN Big Bird? Long legs and all those curves!

        And what is going on inside that trash can? Why so grouchy when he's interrupted?

        1. RockBurner

          Re: WTF?

          "What is going in inside that trash can..."

          You don't want to know....

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqpak5lFxvs&ab_channel=SaturdayNightLive

  10. xyz123 Silver badge

    What we need is an extension that detects if an ad window is larger than X, Y or has the X in a weird place/hard to see color. then it creates a blacklist of those products for amazon, ebay. etsy and every other website. so you never buy from the shitty ad companies ever.

    1. VicMortimer Silver badge

      I wonder if that would work for those of us who don't see ads.

      I've been blocking ads for many years, between NoScript, the default uBlock lists, and my personal lists the web is effectively ad-free.

      But I'd still be happy to blacklist products that try.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ads !!??

        "I wonder if that would work for those of us who don't see ads."

        Yes, I had to use 'Google' to look up what 'Ads' was ..... :)

        Apparently, it is the thing that used to be displayed where all the strange blank spaces are !!!

        Who knew !!!

        :)

  11. aerogems Silver badge

    I keep thinking

    There's got to be a way to do a lot of these things by combining local tokens and online systems. Just as an example, you could use something like TPM to generate a unique ID for each system. The browser maybe downloads a bunch of possible ads and then there's some kind of logic that combines with the unique key to choose which ad is displayed. The unique key would never leave the PC, so there's really no way to track an individual. In any event, I'm just glad I'm using Vivaldi who has generally ripped all this crap out of the Chromium version they use, because there's just no way Google is going to ever implement a solution that doesn't either invade people's privacy every bit as much as tracking cookies and/or basically give themselves a huge advantage over everyone else.

    Of course we could also just stop pretending like targeted advertising is really all that much more effective from the classic message blast method. People who read El Reg are probably going to be interested in technology, so if you're a purveyor of antique furniture, you probably need not apply. But if you sell vintage barbie dolls and want to pay Reddit to put your ads on any barbie related subs, that is probably just as effective as trying to use targeted advertising to find a couple people on Reddit who may be interested in vintage barbies that don't subscribe to any barbie related subs on Reddit.

    1. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: I keep thinking

      The browser maybe downloads a bunch of possible ads and then there's some kind of logic that combines with the unique key to choose which ad is displayed.

      FFS, why should the browser download ads if I've chosen to block them all?

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: I keep thinking

        Because I didn't say anything about ad blockers, FFS.

        1. Alumoi Silver badge

          Re: I keep thinking

          Because you implied people do want to see ads while browsing, FFS :)

          Let's try this little experiment: let people know you are going to download (aka using the bandwidth they paid for) some 100MB of ads just to let your computer pick up which ad will be shown over their 100KB cat picture. Do you think they'll agree to that?

          As long as I'm paying for internet access I have the sole right over what's being uploaded and downloaded by my system. If you want to show me ads, by all means, pay me something like 2 cents for every ad and I'll gladly let it download.

    2. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: I keep thinking

      > generate a unique ID for each system

      If ads shown depend on this, I can deduce if the key is one I've seen before by which ads are loaded. Congrats, you've invented a way to remove anonymity from the web. Tsk.

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: I keep thinking

        Tell me you didn't read the whole comment without saying it.

      2. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: I keep thinking

        What do you think the IMEI on your phone is for?

  12. v13

    Better than cookies

    I've been using them for some time now and I very much prefer them from cookies. I have full control over them, I can disable them and I can customize them. And I need to do that once, on the browser, not on every site.

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Better than cookies

      For whatever it's worth, at least one person read your entire comment and understood the distinction you were trying to make. If you have to choose one or the other, Topics are at least marginally better than tracking cookies. Better to not have to choose, but sadly life is far more often about choosing the least bad option than choosing the best one.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Better than cookies

        While I didn't vote, I take a rather different view. Topics is better than cookies in the sense that me cutting you on the arm is better than me breaking your arm. I shouldn't be doing either, and you can act to prevent me doing them. Arguing that the cut is the better of two evils is not very relevant when you have the option of keeping me from touching your arm at all.

        This is even more true when you consider that topics does not necessarily mean that any other tracking has stopped. It's just a new method, not as strong or dangerous as the ones that exist. Theoretically, people might eventually stop using the tracking they were already doing in favor of this one. I've already discussed this possibility in a different comment and concluded that I don't expect anyone to do that. However, it's easy to demonstrate that it has not happened yet, even if it eventually could.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better than cookies

      So, this is less of a privacy sandbox and more of an advertising dirtbox.

  13. Millwright
    Coat

    "Differential privacy".

    Just sayin'

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Give us the money

    {Gangster Google} Be a shame is something bad happened to that lovely Internet of yours.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Give us the money

      It did.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Give us the money

      Hey Google. How about I decide NOT to use any of your services?

      There are alternatives that don't slurp the bejesus out of my system.

      Ok, then I'm never going to use your services again unless it is anonymized or via a VPN with an IPP of Grand Central Station NYC.

      Then Google, you can go FSCK yourself.

  15. fromxyzzy
    Devil

    The problem is that targeted advertising has never worked, this is Google's biggest secret and everything they do with it across all of their services is part of the shell game of convincing advertisers that their money isn't being wasted on people who will never be interested in buying their product. Look at all the tiny little tweaks they do to Youtube to goose the smallest numbers ever so slightly, just to convince companies that the adverts that play before the latest cat video aren't being shown to people who have no interest in their product, for which they pay by the impression.

    Of course, the biggest problem with targeted advertising is the negative effect it has on brands, as we see expressed on El Reg every time it comes up. This is the great secret of marketing departments - a much larger part of the effect of their work is negative than they want to admit, and the great horror that keeps them up at night is how much of it is just totally pointless, wasted and ignored.

    1. Woodnag

      ...as demonstrated by the ads for a type of product for weeks after purchase. Targetted, sure, if the pretense is maintained that the tracker doesn't know that the purchase was already made.

  16. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Brown envelopes

    Why Google's business model is even legal, still?

    1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      Re: Brown envelopes

      That's called "lobbying" or "political fundraising" in the U.S. (and in the U.K. probably too). It's a legal type of political bribery.

  17. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    Adverts? What are them then?

    Not seen any on my web browser since installing UBlock Origin. Not seen any on TV since deciding nearly 20 years ago to stop watching it live.

    1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      I'm very interested in what will happen when Google starts blocking ad-blockers on YouTube. This will be a test case many sites will be watching because more and more people are using ad-blockers.

  18. Groo The Wanderer Bronze badge

    Topics is just an attempt to white-wash good old fashioned tracking cookies that were banned years ago. Calling it "Privacy" Sandbox is pure MARKETING, and has NOTHING to do with the goals of the technology.

    1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      Banned? By who?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you’re still seeing adverts

    You’re not Interneting properly.

  20. sabroni Silver badge
    Boffin

    There are 469 Interest categories

    Show me the list, I'll tell you what I'm interested in, no snooping on my web history necessary.

  21. Evil Scot
    Windows

    Limited scope of topics is no guarantee of finding the correct market...

    " It looks like you are interested in male grooming products (Beard Care) would you like to purchase a razor?"

    Icon : Grey/Gray Beard and proud of it.

  22. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Independent

    If Google were serious about privacy they'd let some independent privacy organization broker and store the Topics browser requests. That would alleviate fears that letting Google handle them would give them a monopoly on this information, benefiting them even more. Google would send their ads through this broker and wouldn't know which browsers requested which ad Topics.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Independent

      I can sympathise with the intent of Topics. But the only way privacy campaigners will accept it is if it's transparent and not reliant on one company.

  23. MrAptronym

    I do not want ads

    I know that google, as a company, is extremely dependent on advertising. I do not however, like to be targeted by ads. Every time one of these topics comes up, we see statements like the ones here: "We believe the safe use of data can improve user experiences," and "making it possible for users to get relevant ads without sharing their identity across websites". This makes it sound like targeted ads are a service provided for our sake, implying that this is a thing we want and they are just working hard to make sure that can happen. These paternalistic statements upset me more than they should. It is just offensive to have your attention sold off to the highest bidder by people who act like it is a service to you.

    I know some people do prefer to have more targeted ads, but to act like this is for our sake is just a lie. Google PR is gaslighting us, acting like they are providing a useful service instead of selling our data and attention for profit.

    1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      Re: I do not want ads

      As a consumer I'd rather not be dogpiled with ads either, but as an entrepreneur and businessman who wants to grow his company I see advertising as necessary Consumers are hypocrites in that sense since they won't buy a product they don't "know" (haven't seen before in an advertisement).

      As an entrepreneur you want and need to bring your product to the attention of consumers or businesses and to sing its praises so people will buy it.

      So there are two sides to the coin. It's not as simple as "we don't want it. Don't call us, we'll call you!"

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: I do not want ads

        In the old days of newspapers, there were pages full of ads. If people wanted to look at ads, they could.

        How about all the big ad companies gather together and create a specific website where anybody could advertise anything (for a price, of course). If people would like to see ads they would go to that specific site and see all the crap..., erm, ads they want.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: I do not want ads

      Give me a choice: Ads or a subscription.

  24. SidSlippers

    Google: "Don't run, we are your friends ack ack ack ack."

  25. Paul 87

    It's not hard, instead of infering what people might want, ask them. Offer them reward points for being matched against advertisers terms. Offer them the option to add what your analytical engines guess, but to ignore some bits.

    Millions will sign up willingly, and those that don't will just have to put up with irrelvant stuff.

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