So, I previously said that I wasn't having a lot of problems with Google and all of their controversy, but this one kind of pushes me further towards finding replacements for Google services. There is a really good overview of the current story on Daring Fireball and John's article is what got me thinking about it.
Basically, here is the rundown-
Google has been using a method of acquiring data about users that you have the ability to block in certain browsers, Safari being one of them. Since a fairly large portion of searches and web browsing activity takes place on iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, this creates a problem for Google.
Here is some background- I tried to make it very layman friendly and it is not totally accurate from a technical view in order to keep it simple.
Whenever you go to a site, the folks running that site have the ability to leave behind little bits of code called Cookies, that then send data back and can indicate what you are looking at, and can remember you for future return visits. This can be a good thing as you may not have to login the next time you return and it may remember your preferences. These are called 1st party Cookies.
There is also a different, but related way of using cookies and they are called 3rd party cookies. In essence, you go to a site like before and cookies are left behind, but the cookies don't have the same basic domain name and report your activity even after you leave the site that you originally visited. Here is a little example from Wikipedia:
For example: Suppose a user visits
www.example1.com, which sets a cookie with the domain
ad.foxytracking.com. When the user later visits
www.example2.com, another cookie is set with the domain
ad.foxytracking.com. Eventually, both of these cookies will be sent to the advertiser when loading their ads or visiting their website. The advertiser can then use these cookies to build up a browsing history of the user across all the websites this advertiser has footprints on.
As I mentioned above, most all browsers give you the ability to block 3rd party cookies. Some, like Safari- both the desktop and mobile versions, have 3rd party cookies turned off by default.
Essentially, what came out in the last week is that Google had figured a way around the "block 3rd party cookies" option. In other words, they were installing 3rd party cookie contrary to the settings of the browser.
Now, most people don't ever go into the settings area and change anything, so you can't just assume that everyone with 3rd party cookies blocked, necessarily made that choice consciously.
In essence, Google has made a decision that their revenue model and the user data from 3rd party cookies that they depend on to support it, is more important than the wishes of users.
I don't know how you feel about this, but I don't like it. I'm totally ok with 1st party cookies, but this just feels sneaky and dishonest.