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The Privacy Sandbox


The Privacy Sandbox project’s mission is to “Create a thriving web ecosystem that is respectful of users and private by default.” The main challenge to overcome in that mission is the pervasive cross-site tracking that has become the norm on the web and on top of which much of the web’s ability to deliver and monetize content has been built. Our first principles for how we’re approaching this are laid out in the Privacy Model for the Web explainer. We believe that part of the magic of the web is that content creators can publish without any gatekeepers and that the web’s users can access that information freely because the content creators can fund themselves through online advertising. That advertising is vastly more valuable to publishers and advertisers and more engaging and less annoying to users when it is relevant to the user. We plan to introduce new functionality to serve the use cases that are part of a healthy web that are currently accomplished through cross-site tracking (or methods that are indistinguishable from cross-site tracking). As that functionality becomes available we will place more and more restrictions on the use of third party cookies, which are the most common mechanism for cross-site tracking today and eventually deprecate them entirely. In parallel to that we will aggressively combat the current techniques for non-cookie based cross-site tracking, such as fingerprinting, cache inspection, link decoration, network tracking and Personally Identifying Information (PII) joins. More about our intentions in “Building a more private web: A path towards making third party cookies obsolete.

Building Privacy Sandbox

We see three distinct tracks:

Replacing Functionality Served by Cross-site Tracking

Since third party cookies have been a part of the web since before its commercial coming of age in the 90s, critical functionality that the web has come to rely on (e.g., single sign-on, and personalized ads) has been developed assuming that functionality exists. In order to transition the web to a more privacy respecting default, it is incumbent upon us to replace that functionality as best we can with privacy-conscious methods. In the ideal end state, from a user’s perspective, there won’t be any difference between how the web of today and the web in a post-Privacy Sandbox world work, except that they will be able to feel confident that the browser is working on their behalf to protect their privacy and when they ask questions about how things work they will like the answers they find. In addition, if a given user is either uncomfortable with or just doesn’t like personalized advertising, they will have the ability to turn it off without any degradation of their experience on the web. Relevant use-cases:

Turning Down Third-Party Cookies

As noted above, the third party cookies are the main mechanism by which users are tracked across the web. We eventually need to remove that functionality, but we need to do it in a responsible manner. Relevant projects:

Mitigating workarounds

As we’re removing the ability to do cross-site tracking with cookies, we need to ensure that developers take the well-lit path of the new functionality rather than attempt to track users through some other means. Our focus (more details to be added)

How to participate

In general, we welcome the community to give feedback by filing issues on explainers hosted on Github, via the blink-dev intent posts or in any relevant standards body. For ads focused API proposals in particular. we encourage you to give feedback on the web standards community proposals via GitHub and make sure they address your needs. And if they don’t, file issues through GitHub or email the W3C group. If you rely on the web for your business, please ensure your technology vendors engage in this process and share your feedback with the trade groups that represent your interests.