Privacy is becoming a hard thing to come by these days, especially when it comes to browsers. Google Chrome is now the most popular browser used by most. There was a time it wasn’t so. There was a time when Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Firefox were more dominate. I remember distinctly when Google Chrome started to be more known and most of us would ridicule Internet Explorer users for not using Chrome. The old joke was, “I use Internet Explorer to download Chrome.”
Oh, but how far we’ve come since those old IE days. Google’s Chrome browser went through a period of rapid growth, and Google’s plan for Chrome panned out for them. They are now the dominate browser and the dominate search engine, it’s almost like a monopoly. Don’t say that too loud.
Speaking of advertising. A new report from Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica is shedding light on Google’s big redesign of its popular browser. Amadeo calls the latest update to the browser, “invasive” and that it is. Dubbed, “Privacy Sandbox,” the new Chrome will now “track the web pages you visit and generate a list of advertising topics that it will share with web pages whenever they ask.” The feature is built directly into the browser, so this is not a Google Search function.
Google seemingly knows this won’t be popular. Unlike the glitzy front-page Google blog post that the redesign got, the big ad platform launch announcement is tucked away on the privacysandbox.com page. The blog post says the ad platform is hitting “general availability” today, meaning it has rolled out to most Chrome users. This has been a long time coming, with the APIs rolling out about a month ago and a million incremental steps in the beta and dev builds, but now the deed is finally done.
Users should see a pop-up when they start up Chrome soon, informing them that an “ad privacy” feature has been rolled out to them and enabled. The new pop-up has been hitting users all week. As you can see in the pop-up, all of Google’s documentation about this feature feels like it was written on opposite day, with Google calling the browser-based advertising platform “a significant step on the path towards a fundamentally more private web.”
Privacy has never really been a priority for Google, it can’t be, the company survives on user data that it feeds to advertisers. There are the naïve and the hopeful who still believe Google to be a good company, but it’s hard to be good when you’re hellbent on remaining the dominate player in the market. Be sure to check out Ron’s full article on Ars Technica for more.
There are alternatives to Chrome, such as Brave and Edge. Both of those browsers are built on Chromium, the same project Google is part of and that is used for the base of Chrome. Personally, I’m no longer using any Chromium browser, I just don’t trust Google enough to know that they’re not playing with the base code. Call me paranoid. Other options are Firefox for Windows users and Safari for Mac users.