Google updates Privacy Sandbox timeline for September 2021 with extension for FLoC discussions
Earlier in March, Google began testing FLoC, a new way to serve targeted advertisements without using cross-site tracking cookies. This feature was marketed under the Privacy Sandbox initiative, but many have strongly advocated against FLoC. Google’s original timeline for FLoC envisaged the killing of cross-site cookies with a phase-out by 2022, which was later pushed to late-2023. Google is now further pushing back this timeline.
In July, Google highlighted that all proposals go through five stages: Discussion, Testing, Ready for adoption, Transition period: Stage 1, and Transition period: Stage 2. APIs publicly tested in Chrome are marked as “origin trials” (OT) and can be tracked on Chrome’s origin trial registration page.
Testing for FLoC and FLEDGE APIs was initially scheduled to begin in Q4 2021, but as per Google’s new timeline (via 9to5Google), the overall Discussion period has been extended to Q4 2021, with Testing now scheduled for Q1 2022. There’s no further update shared on the timeline of the other stages, but it’s logical to expect some delays across the timeline to account for the longer discussion period on such a fundamental change to the way the Internet economy works.
With this month’s privacysandbox.com schedule update we are slightly adjusting the timelines for a few proposals, including FLoC and Fledge.We received substantial feedback from the web community during the initial origin trial for FLoC, and our teams are working on changes to the proposal that best improves people’s privacy without incentivizing people to shift to worse alternatives like fingerprinting.
9to5Google also notes that User-Agent Reduction is now set to begin in Q2 2022 instead of the previously announced Q3-Q4 2022. User-Agent Reduction is a privacy measure that reduces passive fingerprinting surfaces. As the name would imply, it reduces the details available as part of the user-agent string by removing information like exact device model, platform version, and the full Chrome build version.