How to Disable Google Ad Tracking in Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox

The easiest ways to turn off ad tracking in Google Chrome now its new Topics API and Privacy Sandbox are rolling out widely.

Ad tracking in Google Chrome is nothing new, but it looks slightly different now Google’s Topics API is rolling out more widely. If you’re not comfortable sharing your interests with advertisers but feel secure VPNs are probably overkill, then we’re here to tell you how to disable ad tracking in Chrome.

First, a bit of background. Over the summer as part of July’s Chrome 115 release, Google announced it had developed a new feature for the browser called Privacy Sandbox. It has been designed to replace the third-party cookies that have been tracking the activity of netizens for years.

In place of cookies, Google’s Privacy Sandbox features the Topics API. It relays information, like what you buy and from where, to advertisers in a slightly more privacy friendly way. This is because with cookies, every single website you visit individually tracks you and your activity, while Topics API means now (theoretically) only Google will be keeping tabs on you.

This might not thrill you either, but don’t worry, as you can easily turn off ad tracking in Chrome. Here’s how.

How To Disable Google Ad Tracking in Chrome

Turning off ad tracking in Chrome is relatively straightforward. In short, you need to get to Chrome’s “Privacy and security” settings and then to the specific “Ad privacy” section.

If you already know your way around Chrome, there are a couple of ways to do this. You can either follow the Settings > Privacy and Security > Ad privacy pathway, or alternatively just type chrome://settings/adPrivacy into the URL field.

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Here’s a step-by-step guide to disabling ad tracking:

First, find and click of the three vertical dots in the top right-hand corner of an open Chrome window. Then, scroll down to “Settings” in the menu.

Open window in Google Chrome

Next, find and click on “Privacy and security” in the left-hand menu, followed by “Ad privacy” in the central list of  options that then appears on your screen.

Open window in Google Chrome

You’ll now see a list of three options: Ad topics, Site-suggested ads, and Ad measurement.

To disable the bulk of ad tracking in Chrome, you want to select “Ad topics” and ensure the small button at the top of the central list is turned off. This is shown by the the color gray. If it’s blue, it’s currently turned on and you may see a list of the topics Google associates you with, which is an indication of the kind of information it’s sharing with advertisers.

Open window in Google Chrome privacy settings

If you don’t want to turn off ad tracking entirely, that’s fine and there’s definitely an argument is favor of personalized ads. However, you may want advertisers not to know about some of your interests specifically, so you can remove these from the list if that’s the case.

More Ways To Protect Your Privacy in Chrome

Now that you’ve found out where Chrome’s privacy settings live, there’s plenty of other things you can do to make your online presence more discreet.

For instance, you could also opt to disable Site-suggested ads and Ad measurement, or head to the “Third-party cookies” section from the main “Privacy and security” options to look at how those are configured.

Whatever you choose to do, it’s easy to switch back if you change your mind. Unfortunately, you might find that tightening up your privacy settings too much makes using Chrome problematic, as access to websites may be restricted based on the controls you enable.

For this reason, some people opt to use an entirely different web browser, with DuckDuckGo being one of the most popular  choices for privacy.

Another option is using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. The best cheap VPNs can all help you protect your privacy online by essentially masking your IP address and encrypting all of the data that’s sent over the internet when you’re using it.

For just a few bucks a month, these simple bits of software offer an easy solution to your data privacy headache, which is why we’re always keen to recommend them.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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