Testing expanded for Google’s Privacy Sandbox

Google today said it was expanding the testing windows for its Privacy Sandbox APIs ahead of disabling third-party cookies in Chrome.

Through the Privacy Sandbox, companies and developers can build thriving digital businesses while protecting people’s privacy online. It helps to keep online content and services free while reducing cross-site and cross-app tracking.

In a blog post from Anthony Chavez, VP, he said: “Improving people’s privacy, while giving businesses the tools they need to succeed online, is vital to the future of the open web. That’s why we started the Privacy Sandbox initiative to collaborate with the ecosystem on developing privacy-preserving alternatives to third-party cookies and other forms of cross-site tracking. Over the past several months, we’ve released trial versions of a number of new Privacy Sandbox APIs in Chrome for developers to test.

“Throughout this process, we’ve worked to refine our design proposals based on input from developers, publishers, marketers, and regulators via forums like the W3C, and earlier this year, we reached an agreement with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on how we develop and release the Privacy Sandbox in Chrome worldwide.

“The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome. This feedback aligns with our commitment to the CMA to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions. This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the web can continue to thrive, without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting.

“For these reasons, we are expanding the testing windows for the Privacy Sandbox APIs before we disable third-party cookies in Chrome.

“Developers can already test these APIs today, and beginning in early August, the Privacy Sandbox trials will expand to millions of users globally, and we’ll gradually increase the trial population throughout the rest of the year and into 2023. Before users are added into the trials, they will be shown a prompt giving them the option to manage their participation. As the web community tests these APIs, we’ll continue to listen and respond to feedback.

“By Q3 2023, we expect the Privacy Sandbox APIs to be launched and generally available in Chrome. As developers adopt these APIs, we now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024,” Chavez said.

The goals of the Privacy Sandbox

  • Build new technology to keep your information private
  • Enable publishers and developers to keep online content free
  • Collaborate with the industry to build new internet privacy standards

Melanie Hoptman COO Asia Pacific at LiveRamp said: “Today’s announcement by Google may be an indication that Google feels not enough companies have started their transition to cookieless alternatives. Regardless of the timeline Google has set – 45%+ of the internet is already cookieless, mobile in-app is cookieless, and CTV is cookieless. The time is now for publishers and marketers to control their destiny and transition away from cookie-based identity to people-based identity Given the current economic uncertainty, it is especially important to optimise the impact of every marketing and advertising dollar. Marketers should be asking themselves if their investments are addressable, accountable and measurable. Those who are making progress on their cookieless futures and negotiating based on business outcomes, rather than traditional reach and awareness metrics, can ensure media dollars are working harder than ever before.”

Back in January, Google released Topics, a new Privacy Sandbox proposal for interest-based advertising.

Topics was informed by the platform’s learning and widespread community feedback from Google’s earlier FLoC trials, and will replace its previous FLoC proposal.

FLoC, which stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts, was Google’s solution to enabling advertisers to create targeted ads without exposing the details of the individual users being targeted, via the use of third-party cookies. It was part of Google’s Privacy Sandbox, that aimed to create web technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers the tools to build digital businesses successfully.

In February, Google revealed proposed restrictions to the way it tracks users across apps on its Android system, in what appears to be a response to a similar move by Apple last year.

Up-to-date timelines and milestones are available on the Privacy Sandbox website.


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