Google’s Privacy Sandbox which is currently under investigation from UK anti-trust regulators* is facing a new challenge – a new global community platform that will put an end to constantly accepting or rejecting cookies when browsing.
The SWAN (Secure Web Addressability Network) community which is made up of independent tech and legal experts across the world - will provide privacy for people, certainty for marketers and support continued ad-funded access to digital publishers.
SWAN is today (Wednesday 31st March 9am BST) announcing a 60-day public comment period to ensure users, publishers, marketers and all relevant stakeholders can contribute to improving the ad-funded open web.
This initial period will allow the advertising, publishing and marketing industries to play with the demo, open-source code and operating Model Terms - before operational launch in the summer of 2021.
SWAN is set to provide the solution that columnist Matthew Parris recently called for in his recent Spectator column** ’The 31 inventions Britain really needs’ – number 28 being his plea for ‘A device that automatically accepts/rejects all internet cookies without asking every time.’
The group of like-minded individuals behind it want to ensure that people continue to experience the web as the open and vibrant ecosystem that it was originally intended to be - not privatised and controlled by walled gardens.
Whilst SWAN’s solution to Privacy Sandbox gives people more control over their privacy rights, it simultaneously improves their experience when accessing diverse ad-funded content and services.
People who visit sites that are a part of the SWAN community will benefit from being asked for their privacy preferences just once, for all the publishers they visit - whilst also covering the partners that publishers rely upon.
A simply worded consent box asks the user to opt in or out of personalised marketing - meaning they won’t constantly be asked for their permission to view their chosen websites and can ask to be forgotten at any point.
While this solution will help give control back to individuals - its decentralised set up will protect the long-term future of digital publishing and marketing by avoiding bottlenecks controlled by a few highly integrated for-profit commercial enterprises.
Publishers can still earn much-needed ad revenue, whilst focusing their efforts on building engagement and loyalty with their viewership.
Marketers will benefit from a common ID solution that will improve the efficiency of their marketing without data loss and finally get a step closer to solving the problem of identifying which 50% of their spend is not working for them.
SWAN has already won support from some significant organisations including Zeta Global, 51Degrees, Open X, ENGINE Media Exchange (EMX), PubMatic, Rich Audience and Sirdata as ecosystem participants – all of whom are keenly interested in preserving the open web.
Back in February 2020, James Rosewell, a tech entrepreneur from Reading UK and CEO of 51Degrees, initially teamed up with fellow members of the tech community - including Joshua Koran from Zeta Global, Hardeep Bindra, an adtech vet and lawyers Sherif Malak from Shoosmiths LLP and Tim Cowen, Chair of the Antitrust Practice at Preiskel & Co, who all wanted to protect the Open Web.
Through this shared concern they developed a specific response to the Privacy Sandbox problem - delivered via the proposed SWAN community.
The team behind SWAN have a wealth of experience across publishing, sell-side platforms, buy-side platforms and agencies and have used their combined expertise to focus on improved solutions to the third-party cookie, in addition to improved accountability for the use of personal data.
SWAN founder member Rosewell said: “Whilst I am suspicious of Google’s motivation for Privacy Sandbox, the SWAN community believes in the fundamental right of everyone to protect their own personal privacy. There doesn’t need to be a compromise – the founding principles of the web were built around a utility for all.
“SWAN gives people back control - it will protect the internet for generations to come, with a clear set of privacy-by-design contractual terms for identifiers to allow data controllers to protect people’s privacy.”
“We are replacing third party cookies with a utility that won’t be run for excessive profit or proprietary gain. We want to preserve society’s ability to run and provide a free press and Open Web – currently enabled in a large part by online advertising – which would be severely jeopardised by a Google monopoly.”
There will be a series of drop-in webinars from the 6thApril on www.swan.community to help people understand the concepts and delivery methods behind SWAN.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
HOW IT WORKS:
Upon an individual’s first visit to a publisher’s website using SWAN, they will see a Consent box asking for their consent for all publishers that use SWAN to show them advertising. The person can also choose to select personalization in the advertising, but it is not required. Their preference is then stored in the SWAN network registry and shared with other SWAN participants so that the individual’s access to the content they seek is no longer interrupted.
Not only will this improve their experience interacting with different sites but will also ensure that their preferences are shared in real time and adhered to.
The individual can change their preferences anytime on any one of the sites [for example, exercise their right to be forgotten] and the change will be updated for all sites instantaneously.
UPCOMING WEBINAR SCHEDULE:
24 drop-in webinars during the announcement period:
- Introduction – Understand the high-level concepts behind SWAN.
- Governance – How SWAN adopts the same approach used to govern commercial aviation or the alps to provide a community resource that can never be dominated by a single corporation.
- Privacy – How the SWAN privacy by design approach keeps people in control and protects privacy in a way that other solutions do not.
- Engineering – For the geeks. How SWAN works and what you need to be an operator and user.
SOURCES OF INTEREST:
* Source for Privacy Sandbox under investigation - https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/24/google-isnt-testing-flocs-in-europe-yet/
**Matthew Parris Spectator column: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-31-inventions-that-britain-really-needs
Google and Apple accused of collusion:
Other internet organisations to have criticised the Google plan include the influential Oracle and EFF sources: Google’s Privacy Sandbox—We’re all FLoCed (oracle.com) and Google’s FLoC Is a Terrible Idea | Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org)]
Original Google blog post:
Andrew Olley : andrew at olleygosspr.com