Tech

Google Released “Ads Transparency Spotlight” Extension for Chrome

By Bill Toulas / August 3, 2020

Google has started working on a Chrome extension called “Ads Transparency Spotlight,” and which is meant to give the user insightful information about which advertisements are running on the websites they visit. While the extension is still in an early “Alpha” development stage, and although it doesn’t provide very accurate data just yet, we have tested it out, and we suggest that people use it for the shake of getting a glimpse of what goes on under the hood.

Through extensions like this one, Google is attempting to add transparency to its Ads program, and users should grab whatever is given to them on that part.

We have talked about the labyrinthine mess that underpins Google’s advertising network in the recent past. According to what Brave reported, Google’s system features hidden workarounds, a “silent” data-sharing system based on user ID-matching, and there are generally signs of privacy violations everywhere.

This set Google for GDPR-related investigations that the tech giant would prefer to avoid, so it is now taking steps to add more transparency, block intrusive cookies, and also trackers that jump between sites without asking for the user’s consent.

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The “Ads Transparency Spotlight” extension for Chrome deals with the transparency aspect, lifting the shroud that enveloped advertising firms, advertising entities, and even the number of ads that run on a web page.

In addition to this, the extension will display what personal information is collected, for which purposes, and the reasons why you see an advertisement. Elements like your demographics, your recorded interests, the main topic of the visited webpage, your specific location, or just a marketing campaign that happens to be running at the moment, could all be potential explanations. It hasn’t been fully implemented, though, and the extension is currently seeking valuable user feedback to move the development forward.

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For now, this is an early-stage experiment by Google that we’ll continue to keep an eye on. We hope that Google will implement powerful third-party cookie blockers on Chrome, advertisers won’t have any way to de-anonymize users, and they will still be free to use ad-blockers selectively.

All of these are pillars for a more private and secure browsing experience. Still, we shouldn’t also forget about user comfort that presupposes a certain level of data exchange that is so crucial to online businesses. This can be done transparently and should have been like that from the beginning.

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