Apple arms web browser privacy torpedo, points it directly at Google's advertising model

Apple arms web browser privacy torpedo, points it directly at Google's advertising model

Safari tech ready to be ignored by online ad giants like all other privacy proposals


Apple's WebKit team, which develops the plumbing beneath the iGiant's Safari browser, has proposed a way that online ads can be measured while maintaining the privacy of those browsing the internet.


The proposal is called Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution For the Web and its available for testing as an experimental feature in Safari Technology Preview 82+. It's a way of providing click attribution – linking an ad click to an event like a purchase – that lets advertisers measure ad effectiveness without relying on potentially invasive cross-site tracking.


"Critically, our solution avoids placing trust in any of the parties involved — the ad network, the merchant, or any other intermediaries — and dramatically limits the entropy of data passed between them to prevent communication of a tracking identifier," explains John Wilander, a web engineer at Apple, in a blog post.


In a typical scenario, an internet user conducting a Google Search might see an ad displayed in a list of search results and click on it to buy the advertised item. The store web page would request a tracking pixel from Google to report back user interactions, in order to attribute the purchase to the search ad.


The new WebKit mechanism would have Google, or whatever site is hosting the ad, store the ad click. The destinat ..