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Google to Replace Tracking Cookies with ‘Topics’

Google stated that it will be abandoning its contentious plans to replace third-party tracking cookies in favour of a new Privacy Sandbox concept dubbed Topics

Google to Replace Tracking Cookies with ‘Topics’

On Tuesday, Google stated that it will be abandoning its contentious plans to replace third-party tracking cookies in favour of a new Privacy Sandbox concept dubbed Topics, which categorises users’ browsing patterns into about 350 topics.

The new architecture, which replaces FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), categorises users’ browsing history for a particular week into a group of top pre-designated interests (i.e., topics), which are only stored on the device for a three-week rotating period.

When a user accesses a participating site, the Topics picks three of the user’s interests — one from each of the previous three weeks — and shares them with the site and any relevant advertising partners.

Users can not only observe the framework, but they can also manipulate it by removing or disabling topics altogether.

The objective is to facilitate interest-based advertising by giving consumers more relevant adverts without knowing the individual sites that have been visited by identifying each website with a recognised, high-level topic and providing the most frequent topics linked with the browsing history.

Topics, that will be available as a developer trial in the Chrome browser, uses machine learning to identify topics from hostnames and is intended to eliminate sensitive categories like gender, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, according to Google.

Privacy director of Privacy Sandbox, Vinay Goel expressed that because Topics is supported by the browser, it offers a more recognisable means to monitor and manage how your data is shared, when compared to tracking technologies like third-party cookies.

Goel said that by giving websites your topics of interest, online companies have an option that does not rely on covert monitoring techniques, such as browser fingerprinting, to continue presenting relevant adverts.

The announcement comes precisely seven months after Google stated in June 2021 that it will be delaying the launch from early 2022 to late 2023 due to backlash from privacy campaigners, causing the firm to recognise that additional time is required throughout the ecosystem to get it right.

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