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Google will move ahead with plan to stop selling ads based on user's browsing history

Online publishers have opposed plan
Google Chrome
Posted at 10:39 AM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 10:39:32-05

Google on Wednesday that it will not develop new ways to track users’ movements across the web once it phases out the use of third-party cookies in the coming months.

The tech giant's announcement Wednesday is a win for advocates of user privacy, but the move is expected to further strengthen the company’s stranglehold over the advertising industry.

“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,” said David Temkin, Google’s director of product management, ads, privacy and trust in a blog post on Wednesday.

Last January, Google announced that it would be phasing out the use third-party cookies on its web browser, Chrome. Cookies are code used by web advertisers to track a user’s history in order to provide that person with personalized ads.

On Wednesday, Google said that after Chrome phases out the use of cookies, it will not build similar processes for advertisers to track internet users.

Temkin noted in his blog post that the use of cookies has eroded trust with tech companies and digital advertisers.

“In fact, 72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81% say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits, according to a study by Pew Research Center,” Temkin wrote. “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.”

However, Bloomberg reports that publishers and advertisers have complained that those restrictions would make it harder for companies to generate ad revenue.

T4 reports that in 2019, Google accounted for 31.1% of revenue generated by digital advertising, the highest share in a market with relatively few competitors.