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UK Data Privacy Regulator Unsatisfied with Google’s Privacy Sandbox


April 23, 2024

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UK Data Privacy Regulator Unsatisfied with Google’s Privacy Sandbox

Google’s solution to having privacy-driven analytics and ad targeting still has some kinks to iron out, according to a leaked report from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Google’s Privacy Sandbox Not Private Enough

The report, obtained by the Wall Street Journal, elaborates on how the tech giant’s privacy solution has potential exploitable gaps that could be used to track people online and expose their private data.

As the sandbox’s sole purpose is to allow people to browse online while preserving their privacy, the report’s findings would render the feature useless.

Curb Third-Party Tracking without Eliminating Targeted Ads

Google showcased the Privacy Sandbox as a tool to protect user data from third-party trackers by computing users’ preferences and interests locally to offer a tailored ad experience. As its description reads, “Privacy Sandbox technologies aim to make current tracking mechanisms obsolete, and block covert tracking techniques, like fingerprinting.”

However, the feature wouldn’t eliminate behavioral advertising or user tracking; it would just reduce cross-app and cross-site tracking.

In other words, Google’s solution was to gradually eliminate covert tracking and third-party cookies, providing an alternative to technologies currently in use that heavily rely on third-party tracking modules.

Skeptics Not Convinced by the Sandbox’s Efficacy

However, skeptics aren’t ready to take a leap of faith toward the tech giant’s proposed solution, and the ICO’s findings might just add fuel to the fire. The issue with data privacy doesn’t stem from who gets to do the tracking; it has deeper roots in the act of online tracking itself.

Additionally, critics worry that, while eliminating third-party cookies and stealthy tracking may solve one issue, it would also consolidate all power under Google.

While the situation remains uncertain and we await clearer developments, the ICO has yet to release its report publicly and has declined to comment on the draft.

Google's Privacy Sandbox might eventually prove beneficial, but various factors, especially uncertainty, threaten to undermine its effectiveness.

VPNs Still Highly Effective Against Online Activity Tracking

In the meantime, reliable, established methods can still block third-party tracking and behavioral advertising, with VPNs standing out as one of the most effective tools.

Specialized software like Bitdefender VPN can cloak your internet activity by tunneling and encrypting your traffic, keeping it safe from prying eyes. Additionally, it offers built-in features, including ad-blocking and anti-tracking modules, enhancing your online security and privacy.




Vlad's love for technology and writing created rich soil for his interest in cybersecurity to sprout into a full-on passion. Before becoming a Security Analyst, he covered tech and security topics.

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