- At least another two years will pass before Google’s preferred Privacy Sandbox set of substitutes take the place of intrusive cookies, fingerprinting, and other technology that tracks user information and activity across different websites for advertising.
- The window was previously delayed due to regulatory pressure, pushing it into 2023, but its current development strategy has received permission from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), so this may be the final delay.
Originally, Google had announced its plan to phase out support for third-party tracking cookies in Chrome — called Privacy Sandbox API testing initiative — within two years in early 2020, which was about two and a half years (and one pandemic) ago. We are at least another two years away from using Google’s preferred Privacy Sandbox set of substitutes that are set to replace intrusive cookies, fingerprinting, and other technology that tracks user information and activity across different websites for advertising.
In a blog post, Google Privacy Sandbox Vice president, Anthony Chavez, wrote, “We now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024.” Regulatory pressure spurred a previous delay that pushed the window to 2023, but its current development strategy (if not the underlying technology, at least for now) has received permission from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), so this may be the final delay.
Google is actively exploring a new set of APIs — some of which you may be familiar with, like Fledge or Topics API — that it believes may strike a balance between maintaining privacy and sustaining the online advertising economy, which is the foundation of its company. Developers can now test the APIs on their websites and applications, and if you’re using a beta version of Chrome, it may already be enabled.
The plan is to increase the number of Chrome users who have enabled Privacy Sandbox APIs to “millions of users globally” starting in August. Later, the idea is to get more people in for the rest of the year and into 2023. This will give the website developers and publishers time to study how the technology works before the APIs become widely available in 2023 Q3.
Google promises that if you use Chrome, you will get a prompt with the opportunity to manage your participation whenever it rolls out to you.
Competitors and privacy supporters haven’t embraced Google’s change quickly; EFF staff technologist Bennett Cyphers urged the company to “redirect its effort towards building a truly user-friendly Web.” While Google gave an early attempt at replacing Topics API with another option (FLoC), Cyphers said, “It definitely improves on FLoC,” “Being less scary than FLoC doesn’t mean it’s ‘good.’ It will tell third-party trackers about what kind of sites you browse and could help websites and advertisers ID you across devices.” Google answered, “As the web community tests these APIs, we’ll continue to listen and respond to feedback.”