In response to a group of online data privacy advocates, Google is looking for a replacement for cookies, trackers that allow the company to sell highly personalized advertising space. To please both sides, the group that dominates the global digital advertising market is developing an alternative system that guarantees greater privacy, but allows brands to reach the desired audience.
The new approach uses device computing to keep a person’s browser history private, as product manager Chetna Bindra explains during a presentation of the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) system. On the other hand, advertisers will target audience segments, rather than targeting users individually.
Google is heavily criticized by authorities and NGOs for the issue of data privacy. The discomfort with cookies has grown and reflected in the European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which ensures that citizens know how their data is collected and how it is used, whether for commercial purposes or not.
For Bennet Cyphers, a researcher at the NGO Electronic Frontier Foundation, third-party cookies are a nightmare for privacy and weigh heavily on Google, both in terms of competition and in legal matters. So, the information giant wants to make sure that the business model works at full speed.
The researcher fears that, secretly, the new Google system classifies internet users in areas and assigns labels to guide advertising messages. “It is a black box of‘ machine learning ’(automated machine learning), which will gather all the details of what you do online and determine that it is this or that person,” says Cyphers.