Blocking cookies is bad for privacy. That’s the new disingenuous argument from Google, trying to justify why Chrome is so far behind Safari and Firefox in offering privacy protections. As researchers who have spent over a decade studying web tracking and online advertising, we want to set the record straight.
Our high-level points are:
1) Cookie blocking does not undermine web privacy. Google’s claim to the contrary is privacy gaslighting.
2) There is little trustworthy evidence on the comparative value of tracking-based advertising.
3) Google has not devised an innovative way to balance privacy and advertising; it is latching onto prior approaches that it previously disclaimed as impractical.
4) Google is attempting a punt to the web standardization process, which will at best result in years of delay.
What follows is a reproduction of excerpts from yesterday’s announcement, annotated with our comments.
Technology that publishers and advertisers use to make advertising even more relevant to people is now being used far beyond its original design intent – to a point where some data practices don’t match up to user expectations for privacy.
Google is trying to thread a needle here, implying that some level of tracking is consistent with both the original design intent for web technology and user privacy expectations. Neither is true.