Google tests its Privacy Sandbox and unveils new user controls

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Today, Google Privacy Sandbox, an initiative designed to help improve web privacy for consumers, announced that it is beginning the next stage of testing, running original trials for features including Topics, FLEDGE and Attribution Reporting. 

The initiative aims to test the viability of these technologies in real-world environments and gather technical feedback on the code used to ensure that it’s bug-free, and highlights that consumers have an increasing number of options to shield their personal information from the data collection practices of advertisers and enterprises. 

“Origin trials are Chrome’s method of testing experimental technologies for a limited time and with a limited number of people, to make sure the technologies are ready for general use by websites and services,” said product director of Privacy Sandbox, Chrome, Vinay Goel said in the announcement blog post.

“Today, developers can see and begin testing the code for Topics, FLEDGE and Attribution Reporting in the Canary version of Chrome, and we’ll progress to origin trials with a limited number of Chrome Beta users as soon as possible,” Goel said. 

Testing new user controls 

During the testing process, the Google Privacy Sandbox initiative will also begin testing updated sandbox controls that will enable users to see and manage the interests associated with them, and to deactivate the trials if desired. 

For instance, users can test the Topics APIs controls to view and decide what information Chrome can retain about their preferences. This includes topic interests estimated by the browser and any sites that define their interests. 

The announcement comes as consumers have become more concerned about protecting their data, with 68% of consumers saying data privacy is important to them, and 76% reporting they don’t like getting targeted marketing ads online. 

New approaches to maintaining data privacy 

The Google Privacy Sandbox initiative is advancing in tandem with the growth of the global data privacy software market, which researchers valued at $1.68 billion in 2021, and anticipate will reach $25.85 billion by 2029 as more organizations attempt to get to grips with international data protection laws.  

Google isn’t the only big tech provider attempting to innovate new solutions to combat the complexity of data protection regulations.

Meta’s engineers recently shared some of the techniques the organization uses to minimize the amount of data it collects on customers, including its Anonymous Credentials Service (ACS), which enables the organization to authenticate users in a de-identified manner without processing any personally identifiable information. 

Likewise, just a year ago, Apple released the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework as part of iOS 14, which forces Apple developers to ask users to opt-in to cross-app tracking. 

Google Privacy Sandbox Initiative’s approach stands out because it gives users more transparency over the type of information collected on them, while giving them more granular controls to remove interest-based data at will. 

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