Press Release

Google being disingenuous with its new “privacy” claim

Joint press release from Save Journalism Project and Marketers for an Open Web

Google is today accused of being disingenuous with its announcement it will stop the use of third-party cookies in response to people’s privacy worries.

US Save Journalism Project and UK-based Marketers for an Open Web said the tech giant already possesses more data on more people than any other organisation on the planet. In reality it is only stopping the use of third-party cookies to enhance its own commercial interests.

Google needs our data to sell its ads. That is its core business. Will it stop advertising to us based on the data it does have? No. It will continue to use the vast horde of data that Google has from 90%+ of all search histories/browser use and gathered from the use of all its properties.

Google’s own document submitted to the UK Competition and Markets Authority was specific: “Google has more data, of more types, from more sources than anyone else”. Google obtain much of this data via terms and conditions that are one sided and do not offer any real choice. When someone sets up Android, uses Gmail, searches, or uses a map they are consenting to allow Google’s terms.

The corporation is not saying that it is going to stop all these data-gathering practices.

The biggest losers will be the regional, local, and hyper-local news outlets with a comparatively smaller first-party readership base who will suffer dramatic ad revenue loss if they are prohibited from using third-party data in advertising.

Google saying it is not investing in tracking technologies to sell ads based on browser history, is not the same as: “Google won’t sell ads based on individual’s identity or other personal data which they already hold and is continually gathered from their many other sources”.

Google also confirmed that they will not be participating in the Internet Advertising Bureau’s Project Rearc solution. This is a significant snub to the rest of the advertising industry who have worked in good faith for a year to develop privacy preserving solutions.

James Rosewell CEO of MOW said:

We all agree that privacy is important. Google’s proposed changes and its work arounds are not addressing privacy – and they don’t work. A real focus on privacy would involve splitting individual identifiers used for advertising from end users’ actual identity. This was suggested as a remedy by the CMA last year- but Google isn’t looking at that as it makes all users “sign in” or “sign up” and accept its privacy mining terms. For example, as it requires all users of Android to sign into a Google property and pass personal data to it as the price of use.”  

Notes for Editors

The Save Journalism Project is a campaigning organization incorporated in the USA, created to address the impact on journalism arising from the actions of online platforms.

Marketers for an Open Web comprises publishers, advertisers, advertising technology and analytics companies to push back against anticompetitive practices deployed by the tech giants. Membership is open and growing. Members work with more than 21,000 advertisers and nearly 6 million individual websites in more than 50 countries, jointly serving over 320 billion advertising impressions each year. They have a combined workforce of over 10,000 employees and combined revenues in excess of $4bn.

The consequence of Google’s threatened browser changes would affect customers access to publishers and hence publishers’ revenue streams by an average of 62% (according to Google’s own calculations), whether from changes to create a single sign on through the browser (Web ID), or its blocking of third-party cookies, for which see:

For more information:


Harry Higginson:

Morgan Caplan: