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Google on Tuesday announced that it is abandoning its controversial plans for replacing third-party cookies in favor of a new Privacy Sandbox proposal called Topics, which categorizes users’ browsing habits into approximately 350 topics.

The new mechanism, which takes the place of FLoC (short for Federated Learning of Cohorts), slots users’ browsing history for a given week into a handful of top pre-designated interests (i.e., topics), which are retained only on the device for a revolving period of three weeks.

Subsequently, when a user visits a participating site, the Topics API selects three of the interests — one topic from each of the past three weeks — to share with the site and its advertising partners. To give more control over the framework, users can not only see the topics but also remove topics or disable it altogether.

By labeling each website with a recognizable, high-level topic and sharing the most frequent topics associated with the browsing history, the idea is to facilitate interest-based advertising by showing users more relevant ads, without needing to know the specific sites that have been visited.

Topics, which is expected to be launched as a developer trial in Chrome browser, employs machine learning to infer topics from hostnames and is designed to exclude sensitive categories, such as sexual orientation, religion, gender, or race, Google pointed out.

images from Hacker News