Don’t let Chrome’s big redesign distract you from the fact that Chrome’s new ad-invasive platform, ridiculously branded “Privacy Sandbox”, is also rolling out massively in Chrome today. If you’re not keeping track, this feature will track the web pages you visit and create a list of ad topics that you will share with the web pages when you request it, and it’s built right into your Chrome browser. It was in the news previously as “FLoC” and then “Topics API”, and despite widespread opposition from almost every non-advertiser in the world, Google owns Chrome and it’s one of the biggest advertising companies in the world, so it’s rail in builds production.
Google seems to know this will not be popular. Unlike the eye-catching front-page Google blog post that got a redesign, the big ads platform launch announcement is hidden on the homepage Privacysandbox.com page. The blog post says that the ad platform reaches “General Availability” today, which means it’s rolled out to most Chrome users. This has been a long time coming, though Application programming interfaces It came out about a month ago and a million more steps in beta and dev versions, but now the work is finally done.
Users should see a popup when they start Chrome soon, letting them know that the Ad Privacy feature has been rolled out to them and enabled. The new popup has been reaching users all week. As you can see in the popup, all of Google’s documentation on this feature looks like it was written on an opposite day, with Google describing the browser-based advertising platform as “an important step on the road to a fundamentally more private web”.
The argument here is that someday — not now, but someday — Google promises to turn off third-party tracking cookies in Chrome, and that the new ad platform, which has some limitations, is better than the third-party free-for-all. Party cookies. The problem is that third-party cookies mostly only affect Chrome users. Apple and Firefox have been blocking third-party cookies for years and won’t implement Google’s new advertising system, only Chromium browsers still allow it.
That’s actually what started this whole process: Apple dealt a huge blow to Google’s core revenue stream when it banned third-party cookies in Safari in 2020. And while that was a win for privacy, Google hasn’t even followed suit. You can secure your advertising business. Unified learning for cohorts and now the subjects API is part of a plan to offer an ‘alternative’ tracking platform, and Google argues there is he have To be an alternative to tracking, you can’t be spied on. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has also argued this when it calls Google’s FLoC “Terrible idea“, saying”[Google’s] The framing is based on the false premise that we have to choose between ‘old tracking’ and ‘new tracking’. It’s not either or. Instead of reinventing the tracking wheel, we should imagine a better world without the myriad problems caused by targeted advertising.
Chrome has some built-in browser controls now. Just go to Chrome Settings, then “Privacy and Security”, then “Ad Privacy” (alternatively paste “chrome://settings/adPrivacy” into the address bar). From there, you can click through to access each three single pages and turn off the top checkbox, and with just six clicks you can turn off the ad platform. If you leave it running for a while, you can see the Ad Topics page, where Google will show you ads and things you’d like to see in Chrome. This list is sent to advertisers when you visit the page.
Google says it will block third-party cookies in the second half of 2024, after ensuring that the “Privacy Sandbox” will allow it to keep its profits. Has any user in the world ever wanted a user tracking and advertising platform integrated directly into their browser? Probably not, but this is Google, and they control Chrome, and that probably won’t get people to switch to Firefox.
“Web specialist. Lifelong zombie maven. Coffee ninja. Hipster-friendly analyst.”