Google is beginning the rollout of its Privacy Sandbox initiative in the Chrome web browser, with the goal of improving user privacy by eliminating third-party tracking cookies and replacing them with privacy-preserving alternatives. While the change is expected to be implemented for the majority of users, nearly three percent will remain unaffected initially for testing purposes.
Privacy Sandbox includes a Topics API, which categorizes users into different topics based on their web activity, allowing websites to serve personalized ads without accessing users’ personal data. However, Google has faced criticism for collecting extensive personal data on users, even though it’s obtained through an opt-in process.
In addition to its Chrome browser, Google is also testing Privacy Sandbox on Android devices running Android 13. The central component of this initiative is the Topics API, which sorts users into topics based on their web activity, enabling websites to provide tailored content and ads without accessing users’ personal information.
Users will have the option to customize their ad topics, enable or disable relevance and measurement APIs, or opt out entirely. Google aims to strike a balance between user privacy and personalized content to ensure users have access to information without compromising their data.This rollout comes as Google enhances its Safe Browsing feature to provide real-time protection against phishing attacks.
The company has adopted Oblivious HTTP relays (OHTTP relays) as part of Privacy Sandbox to incorporate anonymity protections and mask IP address information.
Previously, Safe Browsing checked site visits against a locally-stored list of known malicious sites, but with the increasing sophistication of phishing domains, Google aims to shorten the time between identifying and preventing threats to improve protection against malware and phishing threats by 25 percent.