Google says goodbye to “cookies”: the online privacy revolution in a year

It’s called Privacy Sandbox and it’s a multi-year project created by Google in collaboration with the web and app communities to develop a set of technologies that substantially evolve privacy on the web, while at the same time guaranteeing a more open and free network. The project – which is now coming to life with the final phases of testing – involves the elimination of third-party cookies starting from the end of 2024. Hanne Tuomisto-Inch, Director Privacy Sandbox Partnerships EMEA at Google, tells us about the initiative.

What it is and why it matters

“Attitudes towards privacy have changed and all web users now expect the online experience to protect their privacy,” explains Tuomisto-Inch. The current online advertising and profiling system, created decades ago and based on third-party cookies (i.e. data sent to the browser from a website other than the one you are visiting, to help advertisers show personalized ads) is became unsuitable, continues Tuomisto-Inch, and for this reason there was a need for the entire industrial sector to respond with a new technology, developed through products that have privacy at the centre. This is why an initiative began in 2019 – Privacy Sandbox, precisely – which aims to enable a healthy and robust ecosystem, always supported by advertisements, which respects user privacy. Privacy Sandbox assumes that you don’t have to agree to being tracked to get relevant content. The initiative, based on collaboration with advertising agencies, provides for the gradual elimination of third-party cookies on Chrome (both on the desktop and on the smartphone app) starting from the second half of 2024. A time which according to Google is sufficient for everyone, from the largest to the smallest developers, can prepare and do tests in view of this important revolution.

Here’s how Privacy Sandbox works

Sandbox works the same way for everyone, thanks to open and open source APIs (the protocols that allow multiple applications to communicate with each other). Within Privacy Sandbox there are around twenty technologies such as data processing directly on the device used by the user or data aggregation and obfuscation which does not allow users to be identified and protects their personal information. Among these, perhaps the most important is “Topics”: it is a technology that allows the browser to deduce and therefore categorize our interests based on the sites we have visited without sharing our data with others. If, for example, we often visit recipe sites, the browser will automatically often (not always) show us advertisements relating to cooking. Therefore, going beyond the concept of third-party cookies. The timetable that will lead us to the elimination of the old technology already foresees the start of a first phase of testing for developers in these days, who can test this “new world” without third-party cookies with controlled groups of users, in a sort simulation; at the beginning of the year, third-party cookies will be eliminated for 1% of the world’s browsers and at that point actual tests will begin in reality, until they are eliminated for everyone at the end of 2024. web users do not have to do anything: the new technology will be automatically enabled on Chrome browsers via a warning and it will always be possible not to participate, “asking” the browser to show standard content not related to one’s online browsing.