Google's Privacy Sandbox Initiative to Protect Users' Privacy on Web

Google Wants to Continue Selling Ads While Protecting User Privacy

Google Wants to Continue Selling Ads While Protecting User Privacy

Advertising company Google wants to build a "Google privacy sandbox" as a way to improve personalized ads while attempting to remove the "personalized" part. With your web history, the tech giant can figure out all your interests and come up with personalized ads you'll view on Google Search and YouTube.

The company points out that blocking cookies on a large scale in an attempt to improve privacy merely encourages more underhand fingerprinting tactics.

The privacy sandbox, the result of months of work by Google researchers, is a major step that, if it works and is accepted by websites and advertisers, could help Google out of its privacy pickle. "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.

The initiative so far contains preliminary ideas for the Privacy Sandbox, which it calls a secure environment for personalization that also protects user privacy.

Targeted ads - those that are customized according to preferences websites and advertisers infer from our online behaviour - are worth more to publishers.

All of which is a long way of saying, the mission here seems to be about promoting new web standards that are more in line with peoples' expectations around privacy - which are increasingly changing toward a less-permissive attitude than existed even a few years ago. Google cites a study that shows when cookies are blocked, the less relevant ads cost publishers as much as 52% of their revenue.

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What is going on inside the sandbox?

One group of its partners include CloudFlare, Royal Holloway (University of London), and the University of Waterloo.

"Privacy is paramount to us, in everything we do". Together, they've created a project blockchain-based privacy-preserving protocol they call the Privacy Pass. "Privacy Pass is fully open source under a BSD license and the code is available on GitHub".

There are many issues with privacy online today, and Google notes that technology that pushes publishers and advertisers to make advertising more relevant to people is being used beyond its original intent.

It's a concept that has evolved over the years and essentially involves helping data science professionals train their artificial intelligence and machine learning models on real user-data without needing any of that data to leave the user's device.

There are other initiatives and proposals that the Privacy Sandbox is going to review, especially in terms of conversion measurement, ad selection, and fraud prevention - and Google says it is keen to work with everyone, to everyone's advantage - to ensure that the future of the vibrant web is protected.

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