To reduce the risk of fingerprinting, Google plans to limit the proposed list to about 350 topics.
what you need to know
- Google has abandoned Cohort Federated Learning (FLoC).
- The search giant is now proposing to use the Topics API as an alternative to third-party cookies.
- Google claims the Topics API will make user privacy “a step forward” while ensuring advertisers receive enough relevant information.
Back in August 2019, Google launched a new initiative called the “Privacy Sandbox” to enhance the privacy of web users. As part of this plan, Google plans to eliminate third-party cookies entirely and replace them with first-party alternatives.
While Google proposed cohort federated learning (FLoC) last year as an alternative to third-party cookies, it has now announced a new privacy sandbox proposal based on “learning from early FLoC trials and extensive community feedback.”
Topics is the search giant’s new privacy sandbox proposal that will replace its FLoC proposal. The Topics API will allow your browser to determine, based on your browsing history, a few topics that represent your most interest for the week.
Google says themes are only stored for three weeks, and old themes will be deleted. What’s more, the theme will be chosen entirely by the browser on your device. No external servers are involved. Google is expected to publicly share the full list of available themes later this year.
When a user visits a participating site, Topics will select three topics to share with the site and its advertising partners. Google is also building user controls that allow you to view themes and delete anything you don’t want to be selected. You can even disable the feature entirely.
Google also noted that the topics were “curated to exclude sensitive categories such as gender, sexual orientation or race.” Because themes are browser-driven, you have more control over how websites share your data with advertisers.
Google will kill third-party cookies in Chrome sometime in 2023. While Topics does sound like a solid replacement for cookies, it remains to be seen whether it will be accepted by the best Chrome alternatives like Firefox and Microsoft Edge.