HomeWinBuzzer NewsMicrosoft Unveils Privacy-Centric Ad Selection API for Edge Browser

Microsoft Unveils Privacy-Centric Ad Selection API for Edge Browser

Microsoft unveils privacy-focused ad system (Ad Selection API) for Edge browser. It aims to replace tracking cookies but raises concerns from privacy advocates

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has announced its development of a “privacy preserving” advertising mechanism for its Edge browser, aiming to deliver interest-based ads without compromising user privacy. The Ad Selection API, as described by Microsoft, is designed to function similarly to 's Protected Audience API, facilitating targeted advertising through an auction process devoid of the privacy concerns associated with third-party cookies. It was unveiled last month and Microsoft has now offered more information about the tool. 

Privacy Concerns and Industry Reactions

Despite Microsoft's intentions, AdGuard, a leading ad-blocking software provider, has expressed intentions to block the API due to privacy concerns. Speaking to The Register, AdGuard's CTO, Andrey Meshkov, highlighted the similarities between Microsoft's Ad Selection API and Google's Protected Audience API, noting a significant difference in the location of the ad auction process. Microsoft plans to exclusively run it in a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), which theoretically should safeguard data from unauthorized access by processing it in-memory through an encrypted procedure. However, Meshkov has raised questions about the impenetrability of TEEs and the reliability of the ad tech firms managing these auctions.

The Future of Online Advertising

The move to develop these privacy-preserving ad technologies comes as the industry prepares for the phase-out of third-party cookies, a staple in online tracking and advertising that has fallen out of favor due to privacy regulations and growing consumer awareness. Google's Chrome browser is set to drop third-party cookie support later this year, joining other privacy-focused browsers like Brave, Firefox, and Safari, which already block them by default.

Peter Snyder, VP of privacy engineering at Brave Software, criticized both Microsoft's and Google's APIs for their complexity and potential risk to user privacy. He argued that despite the use of TEEs, user data is still at risk the moment it leaves the user's device. Snyder advocates for simpler, safer advertising methods, such as classic contextual advertising or newer systems that prioritize user privacy and web decentralization.

As the digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, the industry faces the challenge of balancing effective advertising with user privacy. Microsoft's Ad Selection API represents a step towards this goal, but its reception and impact remain to be seen as it undergoes further development and testing, expected to be available in the second half of 2024.

SourceMicrosoft
Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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