We started the Privacy Sandbox initiative to improve web privacy for users, while also giving publishers, creators and other developers the tools they need to build thriving businesses, ensuring a safe and healthy web for all. We also know that advertising is critical for many businesses, and is a key way to support access to free content online.
Today, we’re announcing Topics, a new Privacy Sandbox proposal for interest-based advertising. Topics was informed by our learning and widespread community feedback from our earlier FLoC trials, and replaces our FLoC proposal.
With Topics, your browser determines a handful of topics, like “Fitness” or “Travel & Transportation,” that represent your top interests for that week based on your browsing history. Topics are kept for only three weeks and old topics are deleted. Topics are selected entirely on your device without involving any external servers, including Google servers. When you visit a participating site, Topics picks just three topics, one topic from each of the past three weeks, to share with the site and its advertising partners. Topics enables browsers to give you meaningful transparency and control over this data, and in Chrome, we’re building user controls that let you see the topics, remove any you don’t like or disable the feature completely.
More importantly, topics are thoughtfully curated to exclude sensitive categories, such as gender or race. Because Topics is powered by the browser, it provides you with a more recognizable way to see and control how your data is shared, compared to tracking mechanisms like third-party cookies. And, by providing websites with your topics of interest, online businesses have an option that doesn’t involve covert tracking techniques, like browser fingerprinting, in order to continue serving relevant ads.
Example illustrations of what you can see about 3rd party cookies (left) vs Topics (right). In Chrome, we plan to make Topics easier to recognize and manage for users.
To learn more about the details of the Topics proposal, including other design features that preserve privacy, see an overview on privacysandbox.com or read the full technical explainer. Soon, we will launch a developer trial of Topics in Chrome that includes user controls, and enables website developers and the ads industry to try it out. The final design of the user controls and the other various technical aspects of how Topics works will be decided based on your feedback and what we learn in the trial.
This is a busy time for the Privacy Sandbox. We recently worked with the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to offer revised commitments to ensure our proposals are developed in a way that works for the entire ecosystem, and later this week, we’ll be sharing more details about the FLEDGE and measurement technical proposals with developers. The Privacy Sandbox is one of the most ambitious, important efforts we’ve ever undertaken, and we’re profoundly grateful for the engagement, feedback and partnership from everyone who’s participated.
By Vinay GoelProduct Director, Privacy Sandbox, Chrome