Google to display only interest-based ads using a privacy sandbox

Google, the global tech giant, has announced the removal of unwanted ads using a sandbox to enhance user privacy.

In this instance, the full removal of unwanted ads is impossible, but Google has taken a major step to enhance user privacy with the roll-out of privacy sandbox technology. This removes the unwanted third-party cookies that infiltrate user privacy and uses users’ browsing habits to understand their interests. This data is then used by advertisers to promote advertisements accordingly.

Despite the great efforts, the new feature is facing intense backlash from users, mainly due to the lack of information in the company’s pop-up explanation. Users can customize their ad privacy settings in order to avail themselves of the feature. The concern is raised for the implementation and limitations of the feature in non-Chromium browsers.

The privacy sandbox feature will be enabled by default once the user clicks on ‘Got it’. If the user wants to disable the setting, they need to simply navigate to ‘Settings> Privacy> Security> Ad Privacy> Ad Topics’. Disabling the feature will prevent advertisers from categorizing ads for the user and displaying ads according to his interests. However, the ad topic tab in Chrome allows users to block unwanted ads.

The tech giants initially planned to phase out third-party cookies but faced several delays before completing the blockage of third-party cookies. Google has also announced the disabling of third-party cookies in the latter half of 2024 by default for all customers, with a 1% roll-out in the first quarter of the year.

Chrome has the highest web traffic among all browsers; therefore, the stakeholders have expressed serious concerns about the implications of this new solution. While alternatives have been explored by advertisers, markets like India continue to rely on third-party cookies for advertisement spend.

Moreso, critics have shown their concern on the topic. The W3C Technical Architecture Group (TAG) has raised concerns about the alternative’s API limitations for other non-chromium browsers. This could potentially lead to site blocking or a limited experience in non-chromium browsers.

Another primary concern is raised by the marketing advocacy group Movement for the Open Web regarding the exceeding rate of private data collection via privacy sandboxes. Though the feature is an opt-in process, many users will find it hard to avoid.