Don’t let Chrome’s big redesign distract you from the fact that Chrome’s invasive new ad platform, ridiculously branded the “Privacy Sandbox,” is also getting a widespread rollout in Chrome today. If you haven’t been following this, this feature will track the web pages you visit and generate a list of advertising topics that it will share with web pages whenever they ask, and it’s built directly into the Chrome browser. It’s been in the news previously as “FLoC” and then the “Topics API,” and despite widespread opposition from just about every non-advertiser in the world, Google owns Chrome and is one of the world’s biggest advertising companies, so this is being railroaded into the production builds.
Google seemingly knows this won’t be popular. Unlike the glitzy front-page Google blog post that the redesign got, the big ad platform launch announcement is tucked away on the privacysandbox.com page. The blog post says the ad platform is hitting “general availability” today, meaning it has rolled out to most Chrome users. This has been a long time coming, with the APIs rolling out about a month ago and a million incremental steps in the beta and dev builds, but now the deed is finally done.
Don’t use Chrome or any of its derivatives. If you care about privacy and the open web, use Firefox or one of its even more privacy-conscious alternatives, such as LibreWolf. Chrome has always been deeply problematic, but with this ridiculous “Privacy Sandbox”, the browser has effectively become a tool to show you ads first, and a browse second. Mark my words – the total gutting of adblocking in Chrome is up next.