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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Google unveils ‘Privacy Sandbox’ to protect users’ privacy on web

Google also promised that users’ data shared with third-party sites and advertisers would be minimised.

tech Updated: Aug 23, 2019 18:36 IST
Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service
San Francisco
FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Android mascot, Bugdroid, seen in front of a Google logo in this illustration taken July 9, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Android mascot, Bugdroid, seen in front of a Google logo in this illustration taken July 9, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo(REUTERS)
         

In a bid to protect users’ privacy as they open ads on the web, Google has announced a new initiative called “Privacy Sandbox” to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on Internet.

Google said it will work with the web community to develop new standards that advance privacy, while continuing to support free access to content.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve started sharing our preliminary ideas for a ‘Privacy Sandbox’ -- a secure environment for personalization that also protects user privacy,” Justin Schuh, Director, Chrome Engineering, said in a blog post on Thursday.

The company also aims to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but their personal data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimised by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only.

According to the company, large scale blocking of cookies undermine people’s privacy by encouraging opaque techniques such as “fingerprinting”.

With “fingerprinting”, developers have found ways to use information that vary between users -- such as what device they have or what fonts they have installed to generate a unique identifier which can then be used to match a user across websites.

“Unlike cookies, users cannot clear their fingerprint, and therefore cannot control how their information is collected. We think this subverts user choice and is wrong,” said Google.

However, blocking cookies without another way to deliver relevant ads significantly reduces publishers’ primary means of funding, which jeopardizes the future of the vibrant web.

Recent studies have shown that when advertising is made less relevant by removing cookies, funding for publishers falls by 52 per cent on average.

“So we are doing something different. We want to find a solution that both really protects user privacy and also helps content remain freely accessible on the web,” said Google, asking for feedback on this approach from the web platform community, including other browsers, publishers and their advertising partners.

 

First Published: Aug 23, 2019 18:36 IST