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Tag Archive for privacy

The Identity Crisis

I’ve shared some of my expectations on the collateral impact of deprecating third-party cookies. This post is currently published on The Drum’s Open Mic section.

The exact date upon which the 3rd party cookie vanishes is tough to pin down. What we are reasonably certain of is that sometime in the second half of 2024 the Google team will release a version of Chrome that will have them turned off by default. Read the rest on The Drum.

The Privacy Pendulum

Last October Yieldmo hosted a client summit in Park City, Utah. I was fortunate enough to kick off the first day with a trip down memory lane… privacy memory lane. Often I find myself acting as Internet historian since I’ve been enamored with the thing since the late 80s, logging on to the local BBS and playing Trade Wars 2002 late into the night.

Foucault’s Pendulum, credit: sylvar

At the summit I traced back online advertising’s rise to the creation of the humble cookie in 1994. It was a seminal moment for the web as it allowed a browser to maintain state between web pages. I rambled on through a series of events, highlighting each milestone’s impact on advertising as well as noting the privacy implications. As the years went by, society at large took notice of the wealth of information being distributed across the globe and eventually cried out loud enough to force governments and large companies to address their concerns.

I documented swings between discrete tracking and privacy safeguards in a post on The Drum called The Privacy Pendulum. I’m finally posting the unabridged text here, enjoy.

The Humble Cookie

The year was 1994. I was a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology and had switched majors to Computer Science. The Internet, with a capital I, had me in its grasp. I was enamored with all things web. Looking back I think I must have been easily impressed, because gray backgrounds with blue and black text don’t seem all that impressive today. The promise of the web was readily apparent, though. It just needed a few more features to really take off.

1994 was also the year Lou Montulli, a Netscape engineer, invented the cookie. He wasn’t trying to open the door to an industry to revolve around audience tracking and targeting. He just wanted a shopping cart to work properly on the web.

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Coming to a screen near you: Fewer Cookies

I wrote an earlier post called “In a world without cookies” which was my early response to the default setting in Apple’s Safari browser.  This issue has expanded such that we’ll see even fewer cookies out there, so I’m going to bring a little more light to the issue of privacy and privacy compliance in mobile, tablet and the desktop.

For the purposes of addressing privacy, the physicality of the device, whether it is a tablet, phone, or a desktop computer, can be mostly ignored.  The real technical distinctions with regard to privacy are between browsers and apps.  It’s also important to understand the need for advertising companies to maintain compliance with organizations like the NAI and initiatives like the OAB.  Together, the OAB and NAI dictate opt-out rules that online advertising companies must adhere to.

3rd Party Cookie Blocking

Block 3rd Party Cookies Results in Fewer Cookies in the Browser

Apple’s Safari browser has a default set to block third party cookies. Firefox will soon have a similar default setting.

The most prolific obstacle in privacy and compliance is probably a result of Apple’s move to disable 3rd party cookies by default in their Safari browser.  This is not just the Safari that ships on your iPad or iPhone, but all Safari browser installs, including that one on everyone’s beloved Windows machine.  Now, the team behind Mozilla’s Firefox browser has pledged to do the same.  Blocking by default causes two problems: advertising companies can’t do simple things like frequency cap using a cookie, and there’s no way to determine the user’s actual intent.  If the default setting was to allow 3rd party cookies, a user’s intent would be crystal clear if it was set to block. Read more