The Internet's biggest players are taking a bite out of cookies. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are all working on ways to track users on their own, without the help of the small data chunks that reveal online activity, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company that wins what one industry exec calls a"Battle Royal" stands to make big gains: "Whoever controls access to all that data can charge rent for it—and has a tremendous advantage going forward," he says.
For advertisers, the trouble with cookies is that they aren't much good on mobile platforms. So firms like Google and Microsoft are planning to assign each user a special ID for tracking purposes. Apple already has a similar system for mobile devices, while Facebook uses its own versions of cookies that can track users' behavior across multiple devices. The systems may raise privacy fears, though Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook let users decline the services (Google hasn't made its plans clear). Still, ad targeting could grow more intense: "There is going to be an economic incentive to find out when people are most impulsive and vulnerable," says a law professor. Click for the full piece. (Read more cookies stories.)