Google has been hard at work trying to kill cookies in Chrome over the last few years, and the company’s cookie-killing tech, dubbed Privacy Sandbox, is now available to almost 97 percent of Chrome users. That number will climb to 100 percent in the coming months.
In recent months, if you’ve seen a pop-up about “Enhanced ad privacy” in Chrome and you clicked the ‘Got it’ button, you likely already have Privacy Sandbox turned on.
The details come as Google rolls out a major redesign to Chrome on the browser’s 15th anniversary. In a blog posted on the Privacy Sandbox website, Google detailed what’s next, namely, disabling third-party cookies in 2024.
Here’s how it all works. First, third-party cookies have been a thorn in the side of consumer privacy for some time. For years, websites have used these types of cookies to track people online for advertising purposes. This practice effectively allows companies to track your online activity and keep a record of your web browsing. No bueno.
While many browsers already offer ways to block third-party cookies and/or trackers, Google doesn’t exactly want to go that route because it makes money off of spying on users and turning that information into ads. Though it’s worth noting Chrome allows you to block third-party cookies, you just have to go digging to find the option.
Enter the Privacy Sandbox, Google’s solution that offers Chrome users more privacy while still letting advertisers bombard them with ads. It relies on Ad Topics (a.k.a. the Topics API), which uses people’s web history to sort them into categories that advertisers can use to target them with ads. Google says this happens in the Chrome browser, and neither it nor anyone else can see people’s browsing history or learn any personal details about people using the system. Instead, advertisers just see that there are people interested in a topic, and they can target those people with ads.
Alongside Privacy Sandbox, Google will also roll out a complicated tool called ‘Site Suggested Ads’ that will let websites tag users with subjects they want those people to see ads about. There’s also an ‘Ad Measurement’ tool to help companies track how well their ads perform.
Users can tweak their settings with new ‘Ad privacy controls’ in Chrome’s preferences.
Google says that Topics, Site Suggested Ads, and Ad Measurement data will be automatically deleted after 30 days.
While Privacy Sandbox is more private than the third-party cookie tracking system we have now, I still don’t relish the idea of anything or anyone tracking what I do to offer better ads. I hopped off the Chrome train a long time ago, and I don’t think I’ll be getting back on soon.