TECH

Google is testing new ways to make your browsing data more private

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Google’s privacy practices have been under major scrutiny lately, particularly when it comes to how it handles cookies and targeted ads on the web. The company maintains that it’s on the side of the users, working to improve how it handles user browsing data. First announced last year, Google’s Privacy Sandbox shows how the company is taking steps to not only address the privacy of users, but it’s also working with others to make it happen.

As mentioned in a blog post, Google’s Privacy Sandbox is essentially a set of rules to help the company phase out cookies, which collect an individual user’s browsing data so that they can be directly targeted for ads based on what they’ve looked at. One new method will ultimately group people together for ad-based targeting based on similar interests, and “hides” individual users by using on-device processing which keeps their browsing data safe. This proposal is dubbed the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which “explore(s) ways in which a browser can group together people with similar browsing habits so that ad tech companies can observe the habits of large groups instead of the activity of individuals.”

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In Google’s testing, this approach is nearly as effective as web-based cookies. The data shows that this method is “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising”, and hopes to start publicly testing this approach as early as March, although it’s just one or many proposed ways that Google hopes to address user privacy. Google sees the Privacy Sandbox as the best way to achieve this, going with a collaborative approach instead of taking the helm all on its own:

For Google’s ads teams, the Privacy Sandbox technologies represent the future of how our ads and measurement products will work on the web. We encourage others to join us in defining this new approach which will create better experiences for consumers while providing more durable solutions for the ads industry.

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