Google partners with Fastly to create cookie-free advertising technology

Google says it has collaborated with Fastly, a substance conveyance stage, to help its work to convey designated promotions in its Chrome program with a more prominent proportion of security.

Google’s FLEDGE is a proposal for a Privacy Sandbox that would allow for custom audiences and remarketing. It aims to allow websites to display ads that are relevant to the interests of visitors without allowing visitors to be identified or tracked.

FLEDGE functions as follows: Using a JavaScript function, an interest group owner (a demand side platform, or DSP, that enables the purchase of ads associated with the site) can request the user’s browser to join the relevant interest group, which has a limited lifespan, when the user visits a hiking-related website.

The browser stores the name of the interest group (such as hiking), the URL of the owner, and configuration data to enable the browser to participate in an auction and place ads if the JavaScript call succeeds (it could fail, be blocked, or be refused).

When a user goes to another website that sells ads, the seller of that ad space, usually a supply side platform, or SSP, can use FLEDGE to run an ad auction for an ad that is relevant to their interests.

To begin the auction within the browser, the SSP makes a second JavaScript call. In other words, the code retrieves a list of interest group owners that are stored in the user’s browser and invites some of them to bid to show the user a targeted ad.

Offering is done through the offering rationale URL determined in the setup information, which gets provided with the vested party and data about the promotion merchant (the site’s SSP or the actual site). After receiving the bids, the seller places the winning ad in a fenced frame, the (hopefully) safer alternative to the iframe.

In the present time, FLEDGE is being tested in Google’s Chrome browser. Google’s Privacy Sandbox APIs have not been implemented by any other browser manufacturers.

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Online anonymity, sort of? We’ll see. Google is running servers that use k-anonymity to make this work while protecting users’ privacy. FLEDGE employs k-anonymity in several aspects of the bid process as a means of promoting privacy by concealing individuals within a crowd whose size is represented by the variable k. For instance, a unique and trackable FLEDGE group (such as hikingUser23) could be created by an advertising service provider (DSP).

FLEDGE won’t let a browser set an interest group unless at least k other browsers are trying to set the same interest group. This is to stop that from happening. Additionally, FLEDGE applies k-anonymity to ad rendering URLs to prevent ads from targeting specific individuals. As a result, a crowd of at least 50 users per ad design within the preceding seven days is required for an ad to be displayed.

Google is concealing its k-anonymity servers behind a third party in order to make this function in a manner that conceals potentially identifying information, such as the IP address of a website visitor and the User-Agent string of the browser. Fastly performs an Oblivious HTTP (OHTTP) relay in this situation.

In a blog post, Google software engineer Philip Lee explains that the user’s Chrome browser sends an encrypted request to Google’s k-anonymity servers via the OHTTP relay.

Lee provides an explanation, The relay therefore does not see the content of the request but is aware of the user’s IP address. On the other hand, both the k-anonymity server and the gateway do not know who the user is but can see what the request contains.

There are a few impediments to the protection managed by this methodology. One is that the publisher of the website can still see visitors’ IP addresses. The other is that if a person uses Chrome to sign into a Google Account, Google will have a lot of information about them that can be used to identify them. However, Google at least insists that its advertising services will be protected by k-anonymity.

In an email to The Register, independent privacy researcher and consultant Lukasz Olejnik stated, This will offer better privacy since source address IP would be masked.

I know from my exploration that IP addresses, alongside other data, [are] a solid identifier. In a few years, conducting privacy research will undoubtedly be somewhat more challenging. Having said that, I’d like to think that my earlier works have made a positive contribution to the current evolution!

Olejnik anticipates that Google’s strategy will result in a more formalized platform for web ad infrastructure. He stated, The assumption here is that the platform would remain accessible to all competitors. On the off chance that I see accurately, this is the center reason behind the UK [Competition and Markets Authority] process.

Olejnik responded, Fastly as the management of the partial infrastructure should be trusted in this case, when asked if Fastly could abuse its position as a trusted intermediary. Having said that, I generally avoid centralized systems of this kind. Always carry out them with caution. We won’t be able to look at a design or final proposal until they come.

Olejnik acknowledged that there is room for doubt regarding the safety of Oblivious HTTP, but he also stated that it is a technical standard and that, along with Fastly, it is utilized to support Apple’s Private Relay.

He stated, The key question is whether any additional infrastructure providers would want to join in.

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