Data privacy is a topic we take very seriously at the APEX of Innovation. In a landscape of forthcoming government regulations and new customer requirements, executives in all roles need to be informed and up-to-date on how data privacy impacts the business. This includes guidelines on how companies use personal data, how to benefit from data marketplaces, and what companies of all sizes can do to prepare for the next government data protection regulation that comes into play.
Below we take a look at another hot topic in the consumer data protection discussion: Internet browser privacy.
A recent Wired article covered the USENIX Enigma security conference, which took place in San Francisco in January. Developers, security researchers, and privacy advocates all attended the event, which also included the browser industry’s major players, such as Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Brave. In particular, the article provides a new view into the competitive impact data privacy is having on the Internet browser market. Today, it is dominated by Google Chrome with two thirds of the market across both desktop and mobile users. While the new focus on data privacy is a welcome change for users, the browser industry as a whole has a long way to go to reach any type of consensus on the best approach, according to the Wired article.
But there is good news. The article goes on to share some of the new approaches browser vendors are taking to “thwart the tracking efforts of websites and ad networks.” This includes anti-fingerprinting practices—a relatively new form of data privacy protection that makes it more difficult to connect a browser to an individual user, or “fingerprint” of a user’s browser or device. This can be achieved by blocking trackers that are embedded into many websites and encrypting a user’s website activity, as well as supporting third-party extensions to increase website browsing privacy.
The Wired article also provides a useful update on website cookies, which websites use to track user activity to better personalize the experience and push targeted ads to browsers. Today, providers such as Safari, Firefox, and Brave all disable cookies by default, and Google recently announced it will “eventually add cookie-blocking features by default.” A process that could take Google up to two years, according to the Wired article.
Finally, the article looks at how companies are balancing the benefits of data-driven marketing with data privacy for their website browsers—an area where different approaches currently exist. On one end, companies like Google are advocating for some “middle ground” to keep data accessible to marketers and advertisers but doing so more anonymously. On the other end, critics argue that “adding a layer of privacy to the status quo doesn’t resolve the fundamental issues that make digital marketing so invasive,” according to the article.
The key takeaway: Much work still needs to be done to strike the right balance between consumer data privacy and data-driven marketing—with both privacy advocates and major Internet browser providers playing big roles.
To learn more, read the entire Wired article here.