State Attorneys General take aim at Google’s Privacy Sandbox, adds it to antitrust lawsuit

by Surur
March 16, 2021
computer privacy

Google is in the process of overturning the paradigm of personalized ads on the web, making it so that, instead of your profile being stored on some nebulous server in the cloud of an ad agency (likely Google), it would be stored in your browser instead (also likely built by Google).

Their new Privacy Sandbox would replace cookies, with the browser telling all websites you visit in its response header what your  “cohort” is, ie. to which group of people with similar interests you belong.

The browser would support 5 APIs which advertisers on websites could communicate with to confirm you are a real person, find out your interests, track your purchases to see if they are related to the ads you saw and track the interests groups you belong to.

With Google owning both the largest ad network and the most popular browser, 15 attorneys general have accused the company of trying to put its “Chrome browser at the center of tracking and targeting.”

The team have now updated the already ongoing anti-trust complaint against Google to include its Privacy Sandbox claims, saying “Google is trying to hide its true intentions behind a pretext of privacy.”

The attorney’s general claim that Google is using its power in search, streaming video, and other markets to destroy independent advertising platforms, forcing small businesses and media outlets to use its system.

“Google’s new scheme is, in essence, to wall off the entire portion of the internet that consumers access through Google’s Chrome browser,” making its own advertising system far more attractive.

Google denied  the claim, saying

“Attorney General Paxton’s latest claims mischaracterize many aspects of our business, including the steps we are taking with the Privacy Sandbox initiative to protect people’s privacy as they browse the web,” a Google representative said. “These efforts have been welcomed by privacy advocates, advertisers and our own rivals as a step forward in preserving user privacy and protecting free content. We will strongly defend ourselves from AG Paxton’s baseless claims in court.”

Do our readers agree that building ad serving into the browser can only mean bad news for the invasiveness of the web? Let us know below.

via the verge

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