There has been a lot of discussion over the past few months about cookies. Yes, the cookies on the computer. Those that register what you do online. And those that provide you with content which is much more personal then it was in the past.
But not everybody likes that. In fact, it has been the debate in the European Union for the past year whether or not we should all be opting in for the cookies, meaning we would be accepting (or not) cookies by clicking on an acceptance button every time we visit a webpage. This debate ran not only in Europe, but also in the US where the FTC looked into a mechanism that could help to easily opt out of the cookies.
One of the biggest ‘targets’ in the discussion has been Google. The search giant has been aimed at by privacy commissioners all over the world. And now that company announces a new extension on Google Chrome which does exactly what the FTC wants: opt out of ad tracking cookies. They launch the “Keep My Opt-Outs” extension.
On their Google Public Policy blog Google announces the feature, which can be downloaded (for free) from the Chrome web store. But beware: there is no ‘off-switch’ for this. Even though there are already other initiatives which (kind of) do the same, Google believes this extension can make a difference:
“The industry has faced a recurring technical challenge with these opt-outs and controls. If you clear your browser’s cookies, all customized settings — including these opt-outs — are lost. Another challenge is that sometimes new companies offer opt-outs, so you’d have to check frequently to make sure you’re opted out of what you want. A better “Do Not Track” mechanism is a browser extension that means you can easily opt out of personalized advertising from all participating ad networks only once and store that setting permanently.”
The extension lets you opt out of ad tracking from all companies that offer opt-outs through the industry self-regulation programs.
Google says it is working on getting the extension to work on other browsers too. Also they’ve made the code open source, so others can take it and use it.
Google also warns people that the browsing experience might change, irrelevant ads or repeatedly the same ads (that happens also when you’re not opted out by the way).
It’s a smart step from Google towards the privacy-sensitive people. But in fact it doesn’t do that much yet. What would have been really interesting is if Google would have allowed us to adjust the cookies-settings, so that we could tell them what (kind of) ads we like to see and which ones we don’t.