Tech

The Google Panopticon Is Set to Become Even More Omniscient

| Thu Sep. 19, 2013 1:00 PM EDT

Good news, privacy buffs!

Google Inc. may stop using "cookies" to track Web users.

Hooray! Free at last, free at — oh, wait. There's some fine print?

Instead of using tiny trackers that dozens of companies attach to websites to monitor people's browsing, Google is considering a switch to a system that would create its own anonymous identifier for each individual, a Google official said Wednesday....The proposal could force advertisers to turn to Google, already the biggest player in online advertising, to get information about people's shopping habits and preferences—rather than tracking users themselves.

....Mike Anderson, chief technology officer of Tealium, a software company that helps advertisers track users, said advertisers might be willing to trade in cookies for an identifier because it could help them create more detailed portraits of consumers. Right now, advertisers may place cookies on websites, but each uses different code, so they can't tell whether they're tracking the same user.

Google's proposal, which was reported earlier by USA Today, could give the advertisers ability to track people more widely. "The Internet gets a lot cleaner at that point," Mr. Anderson said.

So instead of lots of cookies that provide each advertiser with just a little bit of information, Google will track everything itself and collect it all into one big database that knows everything about you. Isn't that great? And so much cleaner!

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