Google today announced a new long-term initiative that, if fully realized, will make it harder for online marketers and advertisers to track you across the web. This new proposal follows the company’s plans to change how cookies in Chrome work and to make it easier for users to block tracking cookies.
Today’s proposal for a new open standard extends this by looking at how Chrome can close the loopholes that the digital advertising ecosystem can use to circumvent that. And soon, that may mean that your browser will feature new options that give you more control over how much you share without losing your anonymity.
Over the course of the last few months, Google started talking about a “Privacy Sandbox,” which would allow for a certain degree of personalization while still protecting a user’s privacy.
“We have a great reputation on security. […] I feel the way we earned that reputation was by really moving the web forward,” Justin Schuh, Google’s engineering director for Chrome security and privacy told me. “We provide a lot of benefits, worked on a lot of different fronts. What we’re trying to do today is basically do the same thing for privacy: have the same kind of big, bold vision for how we think privacy should work on the web, how we should make browsers and the web more private by default.”
Here is the technical side of what Google is proposing today: To prevent the kind of fingerprinting that makes your machine uniquely identifiable as yours, Google is proposing the idea of a privacy budget. With this, a browser could allow websites to make enough API calls to get enough information about you to group your into a larger cohort but not to the point where you give up your anonymity. Once a site has exhausted this budget, the browser stops responding to any further calls.