Google’s cookie-replacing Privacy Sandbox reaches general availability

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Google’s Chrome browser is now one important step closer to its goal of phasing out third-party cookies by the end of 2024. In a press release today, the search giant announced that its relevance and measurement APIs for Privacy Sandbox — its privacy-preserving alternative to cross-site tracking cookies — are now generally available. That means that the APIs are available by default in Chrome, without setting any browser flags and without participating in a trial.

Google says that 3 percent of Chrome users will remain unaffected for now to allow the company to run A/B tests, expanding general availability of the APIs to 100 percent of users “over the coming months.”

Chrome also released new ad privacy controls that allow users to manage Privacy Sandbox features, such as customizing or disabling relevant ad topics you can be targeted with. Most Chrome users shouldn’t see a noticeable difference in their browsing experience as a result of this milestone because it’s intended for developers. With Privacy Sandbox APIs now generally available in Chrome, devs and advertising providers can assess readiness for the planned deprecation of third-party cookies at scale across their products and services.

Google says it’s received “extensive industry feedback” about the Privacy Sandbox APIs and isn’t likely to make any significant changes ahead of third-party cookie deprecation in the second half of next year. Ahead of that, it’s planning to switch off third-party cookie support for 1 percent of Chrome users in Q1 2024, and an “opt-in testing mode” that allows developers to simulate cookie deprecation for testing is set to be released later this year.

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