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Google’s trust tokens are there to list cookies

Google said earlier this year that it would join other web browser companies to block third-party cookies in Chrome, and today developers have their first chance to test a suggested alternative for tracking users on the Internet: trust tokens.

Unlike cookies, trust tokens are designed to authenticate a user without knowing their identity. Trust tokens might not be able to track users across websites because they are all the same in theory, but they can still have websites prove to advertisers that actual users – not bots – have visited or clicked on an ad. (An explainer on GitHub suggests, however, that websites can issue multiple types of trust tokens.)

Google is a little slower in customizing a third-party tracking cookie solution that everyone apparently hates; Safari and Firefox already block them by default, although Safari is more aggressive about it. But Mike Schulman, Google’s vice president for ad privacy and security, repeated in a blog post that the company still plans to eventually phase out third-party cookies in Chrome as well.

In addition, Google is making some adjustments to the “why this ad” button to help you see why some of the ads targeted you. The new “about this ad” label now includes the advertiser’s verified name so you can see it which companies target you and make it clear to people how Google collects personal data for ads. The new labels will be rolled out by the end of the year.

The company also announced an extension for its Chrome browser, currently in alpha, called Advertisements Spotlight Transparency, which “should provide detailed information about all the advertisements they see on the Internet.” Users can view details about ads on a particular page, why ads are shown on a page, and a list of other companies and services that are on the page, such as website analytics or content delivery networks.