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Google Plows Ahead With Plan to Curb How Ads Track Users

Aoife White
·2-min read

(Bloomberg) -- Google will move ahead with a plan to phase out third-party cookies that help advertisers track customers around the web, shunning alternative methods to track individuals.

The Alphabet Inc. unit upended the advertising industry with its decision last year to phase out third-party cookies that help advertisers pinpoint customers with ads for websites they previously visited and monitor which ads convinced them to buy.

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

Google and Apple Inc. are both introducing privacy features to curb web tracking as big tech firms get more regulatory scrutiny over how they collect and use data on how people behave online. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook took an apparent shot at Google and Facebook Inc. last year by calling for privacy laws to limit “data exploitation.”

Publishers and advertisers complained that Google’s tighter restrictions would make it harder to generate revenue by showing which ads lead to purchases. The European Commission and the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority are looking at the issue as they examine Google’s power over online advertising.

But Google said Wednesday that its so-called privacy sandbox initiative will address concerns people have about how their personal details are disclosed when they surf the web. The Mountain View, California-based company plans to allow some ad targeting with less-specific data collection that lets advertisers target groups of people with similar interests rather than individuals.

Temkin said the U.S. tech giant realizes “this means other providers may offer a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web that we will not,” such as those based on email addresses.

(Updates with more context starting in fourth paragraph.)

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