If we learned anything from conferences and events held by big tech companies, it’s that everyone’s banking in with privacy. Individually, web browsers like Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, and Mozilla’s Firefox are all playing catch-up with who gets to show off their latest privacy features or who has the better software that keeps people’s information safe.
Recently, the Federal government started to crackdown how tech companies collect and distribute people’s personal information. Even though they’re about a decade late, they are trying to implement more laws and regulations with how data are handled in public spaces such as the Internet.
It may be true that the government still needs to learn and understand a lot from the inner workings of the Internet, but that’s not stopping the public from raising their concerns. With increasing awareness, people are demanding tech companies to stop exploiting their data.
As the issue of privacy is continuously tackled both by the law and the public, tech companies understand that confidentiality is today’s hot commodity. So, in different events, companies are announcing innovative measures in securing your data to gain public trust and approval.
Mainly, big tech such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all differentiating themselves from Facebook who has constantly been berated in public hearings and by tech experts for consistently breaching ethical privacy standards.
In reaction, Mark Zuckerberg has continuously made big claims of turning Facebook into a more safe and private space for its consumers. At the same time, the social media platform continues to fail to fulfill its promises.
The thing is, tech companies earn their dollars through targeted advertising, which is a lot more expensive than regular advertising. However, targeted ads require a ton of personal information collected through a specified period. Facebook does this well, but web browsers do so too.
In recent events, all the big tech companies have boasted that they’re improving how users experience the Internet through their browsers. One of the most obvious ones are changes in how advertisers find you through cookies.
In simple terms, cookies are tiny bits of information that you leave when visiting a website. Cookies can be used to let the website remember who you are, like save your username and password so you would be able to log in seamlessly on your next visit.
However, cookies can also be used to track actions made while using a particular website, which in essence helps the browser create your profile, including your interests, what you search, websites you visit, etc.
What browsers does next to your established profiles is to hand them off to advertisers. This is how you see certain ads on a page that seemingly aligns with your interests.
Tech companies, however, show off that web browsers now include specific blockers that prohibit the browser in creating your profile. This blockers purpose is to secure your activities, making it harder for advertisers to track you and cater ads.
In a sense, the move is a big leap towards a more secure internet ecosystem. However, these companies introducing a privacy-centric web browser are announcing the feature as if it’s a done deal. The inadequate emphasis on how to enable the blockers by accessing your settings menu is appalling. Users-wise, they hardly customize browsers based on secured privacy settings, instead goes with anything that was handed to them.
“By not changing the default, by making it optional, Google is relying on people not changing it,” Brendan Eich, co-founder, and CEO of Brave told Recode. “Chrome users may never know this is an option.”
This is where companies like Google and Mozilla veer away from Apple. Apple has been on the lead with this feature for years. Moreover, they have enabled these blockers by default. So from a perspective, paying more is getting more.
Privacy is a great thing to invest in, but the moment it becomes a selling point rather than an actual tool that helps people from getting exploited is the time when people should start realizing how big tech is only parading privacy over than implementing it.