Chrome, the new Google extension you absolutely must install

Google has released Ads Transparency Spotlight, a new Chrome extension that analyzes ads

Even the best of adblockers can't save our data from ads. In fact, often if we knew how our online activities were being tracked, we wouldn't approve of it. That's why Google has released a new extension for Chrome that promises more transparency.

The extension was released in the Chrome web store in July 2020 and is currently still in the testing phase. Its name is Ads Transparency Spotlight, a free extension whose purpose is to make users more aware of what data is being tracked by online ads to personalize ads and what control they may have over that data. Google is exploring the possibility of adding more features and is asking users who install it to leave feedback to collaborate on improving Ads Transparency Spotlight.

Chrome, how the new extension works

To download the Ads Transparency Spotlight extension, simply go to the Chrome web store and start downloading. The version of the extension is still in the "alpha" phase, that is, testing. Once installed, it will be enough to visit a web page and click on the plugin icon that appears at the top of the browser on the right to see all the advertisements present. By clicking on the individual ad, the user will be able to access the policies regarding data processing.

Chrome, the limits of the extension

The alpha version of the Chrome extension is not yet working on all websites, due to a limitation that Google is still evaluating. Ads Transparency Spotlight is only able to read information about ads purchased through Google Ads, which then have implemented the Ad Disclosure Schema, which is a system that allows ads to include a specific string of metadata describing their behavior on the webpage you're currently visiting.

Not all ads, especially those with shady targets on user data, have adopted the Ad Disclosure Schema, so on these the Chrome extension might not work. Google's hope is that in the advertising industry the scheme will be implemented in all ads in the future, but it can't count on that happening for sure.