How the cookies crumble: Google rolls out Privacy Sandbox

8 Sep 2023

Image: © MR/

Google plans to turn off third-party cookies for 1pc of Chrome users next year, with the goal of phasing them out entirely in 2024.

Google has hit a new milestone on its journey to ban third-party cookies, by making its Privacy Sandbox product generally available for most Chrome users.

The new feature lets users customise the type of ads they see on their browser, by sharing the ad topics they’re interested in and what relevance and measurement APIs they want enabled on their browser.

The general roll-out is a step Google is taking towards phasing out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser entirely.

Cookies are lines of code that a website stores in a user’s browser to track browsing activity. This data informs what type of ads are displayed to a user. They have been a critical part of the online ad industry’s business but have raised concerns about user privacy.

The tech giant first launched its Privacy Sandbox initiative in 2019 as a way to develop privacy-preserving alternatives to third-party cookies. The aim is to create technologies that both protect user privacy and give companies and developers tools for online advertising.

Google has been testing its Privacy Sandbox technologies for years and said they are now in a stable state and ready for “scaled use” by advertisers. The goal is to give advertisers a way to assess their readiness for the planned cookie ban.

The plan to cut third-party cookies from Chrome was originally set to begin in 2022, but was pushed back to 2023 after a mixed response to its alternative proposals. The timeframe was eventually changed to 2024.

Google said it will let users simulate the third-party cookie ban towards the end of the year, to help the industry “bolster its testing efforts”. The company will then turn off third-party cookies for 1pc of Chrome users in the first quarter of 2024.

“The countdown to the planned deprecation of third-party cookies is in full effect,” Google said in a blogpost. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the industry on this transition, including supporting the adoption of Privacy Sandbox APIs and evaluating their effectiveness through scaled testing.”

Last year, a survey from the Compliance Institute suggested that 32pc of Irish organisations are not prepared at all for a cookie-less future.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic