Google Privacy Sandbox: what is the Google alternative to cookies

The UK antitrust has approved Google Privacy Sandbox : soon the country will be able to greet third-party cookies. The initiative is aimed at creating web standards to access users' browsing information without affecting their privacy. The idea is to keep advertising online without relying on third-party cookies

Although the UK took a step in this direction, Privacy Sandbox generated a lot of perplexity and was considered anti-competitive. Many of the perplexities derive from the fear that new technologies could tie advertisers more to Google, damaging market freedom.

What are third party cookies?

Third-party cookies are so called to differentiate them from first-party cookies or proprietary cookies. In both cases it is the same type of information stored on the device to improve navigation and, in the case of online advertising, to show personalized ads. Each cookie has a name, a value, an (optional) expiration that invalidates the cookie after a certain date, the access mode and the secure attribute to indicate whether the cookie should be transmitted via https.

google privacy sandbox

Cookies are classified in different ways; one of these is the provenance. In this case , proprietary cookies are distinguished from those of third parties: the difference lies in the domain that created them . Proprietary cookies are created by the host domain, i.e. that of the website we are visiting, and are used to keep the session open and therefore ensure a better user experience. They are used, for example, to remember username and password, preferences selected on the site and, in the case of e-commerce sites, the products in the cart.

Third-party cookies, on the other hand, come from domains that the user does not visit directly. The websites we visit have embedded scripts or iframes that are able to set the information used by a third party website. The most common examples are advertising banners and social buttons: all social networks use plug-ins to share or like third-party content. The cookies set by social networks are used to identify the site that has been visited and, subsequently, to propose advertising relating to the contents displayed.

Google Privacy Sandbox

Last year Google had already announced that it wanted to progressively "turn off" third-party cookies , blocking them by default on Chrome. The idea was to eliminate them permanently by February 2022, but the deadline has been extended to the end of 2023. The world of advertising will undergo a big change due to this decision, and the competition will have to adapt to the new standards to remain competitive.

Chrome will progressively abandon third-party cookies.

Google Privacy Sandbox is not a technology, but an initiative that aims to protect user privacy . The goal of Privacy Sandbox is to remove traditional tracking mechanisms and instead develop new technologies that protect the individual. The new methodologies would block mechanisms such as fingerprinting which aims to identify the user.

The alternatives to third-party cookies proposed by Google are based on the study of groups of people and the classification of the individual in one of these, without identifying it. There are several techniques to implement these alternatives , such as differential privacy , which is based on behavioral patterns ; k-anonymity ( k-anonymity ), that is a measure of anonymity within the dataset in question (the information of the set, for each person contained in it, cannot be distinguished from at least other k-1 subjects); on-device computing , which takes place on your own device and no longer on external servers.

Google, predominant in the advertising market, wants to maintain the same precision in targeted ads, while making the web more "private". The technologies are still developing, and the initiative is open to anyone who wants to make their contribution.

The article Google Privacy Sandbox: What is Google's alternative to cookies comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .