Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Google is working on a replacement for third-party tracking cookies in web browsers, called the Privacy Sandbox, but the rollout has been delayed a few times. Google is now pausing the rollout again.

Third-party tracking cookies have privacy and security problems, especially when they are used for online advertising, so Google introduced the Privacy Sandbox in last year’s Chrome 115 update. The Privacy Sandbox is a collection of web APIs intended to replace all the use cases for tracking cookies, while offering at least slightly better privacy and security. It evolved from Google’s earlier Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) proposal, which was extensively criticized and later reworked into the Topics API for the Privacy Sandbox.

Google previously announced that third-party tracking cookies would be turned off for 1% of all Chrome users in the first quarter of 2024, with an eventual plan to fully turn off third-party cookies in favor of the Privacy Sandbox. However, the web advertising industry still isn’t completely happy with the Privacy Sandbox, and the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has raised complaints that it doesn’t protect user privacy enough.

Google is pausing the shutdown of third-party tracking cookies in Chrome. The company said in a statement, “We recognize that there are ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers, and will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem. It’s also critical that the CMA has sufficient time to review all evidence including results from industry tests, which the CMA has asked market participants to provide by the end of June. Given both of these significant considerations, we will not complete third-party cookie deprecation during the second half of Q4.”

Microsoft Edge is also phasing out third-party tracking cookies, though Microsoft is working on its own Ad Selection API as a replacement, instead of using Google’s Privacy Sandbox technology. Apple’s Safari browser doesn’t outright block tracking cookies, but it does enforce stricter limits on their behavior, including deleting unused local data after one week. Cross-site tracking cookies are disabled by default in Mozilla Firefox.

Source: Privacy Sandbox via Thurrott

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By John P.

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