In its quarterly earnings call yesterday, Google’s chief business officer, Nikesh Arora, was asked a question about cookies and effectively admitted that the company has teams working on new ways to monitor consumers.
“There is a lot of stuff going on in terms of how do we continue to evolve this area of technology and make sure that we give the users more control and also make sure that users have security in terms of what data gets transferred for them right and increase the transparency. So, our teams are working on this. There are some early concepts … But I think it’s too early to talk about what those precise solutions are likely to be.”
Google’s gripe with cookies is that there are too many doing too many things for too many different companies. With AdID, the data about you would only go into a single bucket, making your profile much more valuable to advertisers and to Google.
Its other issue with cookies is that more and more people are blocking them. Most modern Web browsers, like Apple’s Safari, now include a Do Not Track (DNT) function, which blocks tracking cookies automatically. Even Google Chrome has this functionality. But for Google, this is not a welcome development.
We will, of course, be watching Google’s search for non-cookies very closely indeed as we are concerned that Google may be working to produce something with an even more bitter taste. Take a look at android phones for example: they have “Advertising ID”, a system that tracks the device and effectively requires a user to log into Google’s suite of products, whether they like it or not. Effectively AdID is a system that allows continuous snooping on your mobile habits. Imagine such a system running in the background of your laptop or PC: it’s like a cookie on speed. Suddenly cookies look like a tasty snack again. But of course we still don’t want them.
All this shows, yet again, that Google is intent on profiting from your data. No wonder they hinted at this on a call to analysts whose main interest is in the company’s future profitability. Our interest lies elsewhere of course. All we want from Google is respect for our right to privacy. It looks today that our fight may be entering a whole different ballpark altogether.