Instead, Google is proposing a new system that would use an anonymous identifier for advertising -- or AdID -- to collect information on users, USA Today first reported. Advertisers and advertising networks that agreed to abide by Google's code of conduct -- which has yet to be detailed -- would then be given access to AdID. Theoretically, that code of conduct would enshrine some basic privacy protections for consumers, including the ability to opt out, or to assign different AdID policies to different sites, but any such details have yet to be released.
Asked to comment on the report, a Google spokeswoman emailed the following statement: "We believe that technological enhancements can improve users' security while ensuring the web remains economically viable. We and others have a number of concepts in this area, but they're all at very early stages."
[ Here's how Google is personalizing its answers to your questions: Google Search: 5 New Ways To Get More Personal. ]
Google reportedly plans to meet with consumer groups, government agencies, industry groups and anyone else with a stake in the $120 billion online-advertising industry, which Google dominates. In addition, according to Net Market Share, Google's Chrome browser also enjoys a 16% share of the browser market. Although less than IE (58%) and Firefox (19%), that still gives Google added leverage.
Advertisers, however, have responded in a lukewarm manner to Google's suggestion, because it would largely consolidate advertising power in the hands of Google, as well as Apple, which last year introduced a unique Apple Advertising Identifier for all iOS devices, together with prohibitions on developers or marketers using a device UDID to directly track users. "There could be concern in the industry about a system that shifts more of the benefits and control to operators like Google or Apple," eMarketer's Clark Fredricksen, who tracks the digital ad industry, told USA Today.