Chrome’s new ad platform, known as the “Privacy Sandbox,” is being rolled out and will track users’ web browsing and generate a list of advertising topics to share with web pages. Despite opposition, Google is pushing ahead with this feature, which is built directly into the Chrome browser. The company plans to eventually turn off third-party tracking cookies in Chrome, offering its ad platform as an alternative. Users can find controls to manage this feature in Chrome Settings, under “Ad privacy.”
Google’s Chrome browser is making headlines with its latest redesign, but there’s another significant development that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Chrome’s invasive new ad platform, called the “Privacy Sandbox,” is now being widely rolled out. This feature will track the web pages users visit and generate a list of advertising topics to share with web pages upon request. While opposition to this platform has been widespread, Google, as a major advertising company and the owner of Chrome, is moving forward with its implementation.
Unlike the grand announcement of Chrome’s redesign, Google seems to be downplaying the launch of its ad platform. The announcement was tucked away on the privacysandbox.com page instead of the front-page blog post. The ad platform has now reached “general availability,” meaning it has been rolled out to most Chrome users. This move has been in the works for some time, with incremental steps in the beta and dev builds. It’s clear that Google anticipates a potential backlash from users, given the discreet nature of this announcement.
When users start up Chrome, they will soon see a pop-up informing them about the rollout of an “ad privacy” feature that has been enabled for them. Google’s documentation about this feature presents it as a step towards a more private web. The argument is that, although the current ad platform has limitations, it is seen as a better alternative to third-party tracking cookies. However, it’s worth noting that blocking third-party cookies has long been implemented by Apple and Firefox, while only Chromium browsers, including Chrome, still allow them.
To address concerns about privacy and control, Chrome now includes controls to manage the ad platform within its settings. Users can navigate to Chrome Settings, then “Privacy and Security,” and finally “Ad privacy.” From there, they can choose to disable the ad platform by toggling off the top checkbox. Additionally, users can explore the “Ad topics” page to see what ads Chrome thinks they would like to see. It’s important to remember that Google plans to block third-party cookies in Chrome by the second half of 2024, using the Privacy Sandbox to maintain its advertising profits.