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Deconstructing Google’s Excuses on Tracking Protection

Jonathan Mayer and Arvind Narayanan, writing at Freedom to Tinker:

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. […]

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.

If the benchmark is original design intent, let’s be clear: cookies were not supposed to enable third-party tracking, and browsers were supposed to block third-party cookies. We know this because the authors of the original cookie technical specification said so (RFC 2109, Section 4.3.5).

Similarly, if the benchmark is user privacy expectations, let’s be clear: study after study has demonstrated that users don’t understand and don’t want the pervasive web tracking that occurs today.

A bad look for Google.

Friday, 23 August 2019