The Google Panopticon Is Set to Become Even More Omniscient


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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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