The pervading theme in Google I/O 2019 seems to be privacy. Ironic considering the company was, at one point, regarded to be its biggest violator. Whether you believe it turned over a new leaf or is cooking up something is for you to decide. The fact is that, at least for the moment, Google is giving users, especially Chrome users, more control or at least more information about the things that could violate their privacy on the Web.
Not all cookies are bad. Designed to hold small pieces of data, cookies are essential in how web sites work, from your login status to already visited pages to preferences you’ve made and the like. Not all cookies are good, however, but options to disable cookies treat both kinds equally. And that can sometimes cause sites to break.
Chrome will soon allow users too only block third-party cookies while leaving first-party ones intact. These cookies are often used for ads and are not essential to the operation of a particular website or page. Some advertisers, however, cunningly use fingerprinting, like identifying your particular browser, IP, or PC, to continue tracking users even when cookies have been blocked. Bad news for them because Chrome will be blocking those, too, under the heading of cross-site tracking.
At the heart of all these privacy concerns are Internet ads, which also happen to be the bread and butter of Google’s business. The company has been working to transform the public’s opinion of ads by pushing for “good” and well-behaved ads. Part of that, it says, is making ads transparent. Google is working on a Chrome browser extension that will let users know the companies that were involved with the ads.
Of course, Google can only show that for ads that it serves on its properties and publishing partners. It can only encourage others to use its upcoming API to provide the same information to users. It will probably be unlikely but Google believes that transparency in the ads industry will help increase trust in ads so that users are less likely to block ads wholesale.