Google delays phasing out ad cookies in Chrome until 2024, to allow more parties to evaluate and test Privacy Sandbox APIs

Google has announced that it is delaying its ambitious plan to remove third-party tracking cookies in its Chrome browser until the second half of 2024. The company said comments showed advertisers needed more time to test the technology. This is the second time that Google has pushed back the implementation of its alternative to cookies called Privacy Sandbox. Regulatory pressures have slowed the technology’s spread, but Google may get approval from regulators by the new launch date. However, the technology is still being denounced by influential players on the web.

Google’s plan to remove third-party cookies from Chrome is a step that will change the way ads are targeted on websites. The company says it has worked with publishers, marketers and regulators on its plan to replace third-party cookies. Currently, cookies are the primary means that marketers use to track users’ online activity and customize ads accordingly. However, Google, the world leader in online advertising and developer of Chrome, the most used browser in the world, decided to do without it.

The initiative is known as the Privacy Sandbox. In a blog post published on Wednesday, Google said it will delay switching to the new system to give marketers more time to test its tools. The most consistent feedback we’ve received is that more time is needed to evaluate and test what’s new in the Privacy Sandbox before turning off third-party cookies in Chrome. “We now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024,” wrote Anthony Chavez, Vice President of Privacy Sandbox.

Google originally announced plans to phase out support for third-party tracking cookies in Chrome within two years from early 2020 – now about two and a half years ago (a global pandemic). Regulatory pressure has led to an earlier delay that has led to a return to the 2023 window. However, the current development approach (if not the core technology, yet) of the new technology would have had approval from the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), so it may This will be the last time it will be pushed back.

Chavez announced Wednesday that trials of these new privacy-sensitive ad tools will expand to more users in early August, only to ramp up over the remainder of this year and into 2023. Google has released beta versions of a number of new Privacy Sandbox APIs in Chrome for developers to try out. . These APIs include “Fledge” and “Topics” which the company says strike a balance between maintaining privacy and pursuing the online advertising economics that are at the core of its business.

If you are using a trial version of Chrome, it may already be active for you. In addition, Google’s decision to remove cookies repeats steps taken by Apple, which rocked the digital advertising market last year by limiting advertisers’ access to user data in its iOS operating system. However, as tech gloves come under more antitrust scrutiny, some experts fear that Google’s decision to remove cookies will bolster its power in the digital advertising market, where it already plays a dominant role.

The Privacy Sandbox Project aims to work with the ecosystem to develop alternatives to third-party cookies and other forms of cross-site tracking that maintain privacy. He suggests using an in-browser algorithm, Unified Learning Groups (FLoC), to analyze user activity and create a “privacy-keeping” identifier that can be used for targeting. Google claims the Privacy Sandbox is more anonymous than cookies, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) described it as “the opposite of privacy technology” and akin to a “behavioral credit score”. “

Privacy Sandbox has also prompted regulators to consider whether Google’s advertising goals are anticompetitive. In January 2021, the UK Capital Markets Authority announced its intention to focus on the potential impacts of the Privacy Shield on publishers and users. And in March, 15 US and Puerto Rican attorneys general amended an antitrust lawsuit filed last December, saying the Privacy Sandbox changes would force advertisers to use Google as an ad medium. A practice that prevents his rivals from competing with him.

Earlier this year, Google reached an agreement with the CMA on how to develop and publish the Privacy Sandbox in Chrome. However, Google’s competitors believe that the Privacy Sandbox encourages centralization, undermines user choice, and conflicts with the community’s desire to create a more open web. Privacy Sandbox will cement Google’s position as a monopoly on the web. As others have pointed out, “Real privacy protections will make the web more competitive and open,” the Brave Browser team wrote in a January blog post.

She added that the Privacy Sandbox is just the opposite: a cynical proposition that adopts the language and colors of the privacy community enough to keep regulators at bay, while practically benefiting Google’s monopoly, at the expense of the web in general. The team finds it difficult, if not impossible, to trust Google to protect the privacy of Internet users, when it is the main architect of the current state of the web. “It is safe to suspect someone selling antidotes after they got rich by poisoning wells,” the team said.

The web community should similarly doubt Google’s privacy promises (and intentions) after Google spent decades taking advantage of (and perpetuating) the web’s worst privacy abuses.), she said. Other web players, including Amazon and WordPress, also denounce anti-competitive behavior on the part of Google.

Source: Google

And you?

What do you think about it?
What do you think of Google’s initiative to replace cookies in Chrome?
In your opinion, can Google be trusted to protect the privacy of Internet users?
What do you think of the arguments made by EFF and Brave against implementing the Privacy Sandbox?

See also

Google pushes to roll back ad tracking technology FLoC 2023, after pressure from industry players, regulators and digital rights advocates

Amazon bans FLoC, Google’s new ad tracking system, and it could be a blow to the system that’s supposed to replace ad cookies on Chrome

EFF says Google’s FLoC is a terrible idea, new tracking method to replace third-party cookies will create new privacy risks

WordPress plans to treat Google’s FLoC as a security issue and may automatically disable it from websites, CMS says it takes up about 41% of the web

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