Global tech giant Google plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome. “We plan to start the first origin trials by the end of this year, starting with conversion measurement and following with personalization,” Google said in its blog post.
The move is an update of Google’s initiative announced in August 2019, called the Privacy Sandbox, to develop a set of open standards to enhance privacy on the web. “Our goal for this open-source initiative is to make the web more private and secure for users, while also supporting publishers,” the company said.
With this, the company also sought help from the public in increasing the privacy of web browsing. The plan is to restrict advertising software companies and others from connecting their browser cookies to websites not operated by them.
Cookies are a tool within browsers that allow website operators to save data about users. Third-party cookies are placed by advertisers. A website can use a number of different third-party cookies to collect user information.
For example, you might visit a news website that shows ads that have third-party cookies to track whether you click on messages supplied by other companies. The cookies let companies track your activity across a wide range of sites. And they can use them to “retarget” ads, or show you the same ads even as you move around the web. If you visit a company’s website and later see an ad for it on Twitter or Facebook, cookies — especially third-party cookies — are likely the reason why.
Third-party cookies could meet their end, though. Google plans to phase out support in Chrome within two years. “We need to call out the timeline so we can start making real progress,” Schuh said. “By default, a website will not be able to ID you or track you across multiple visits.”
Achieving consensus with publishers, advertisers, browser rivals and others who use the web won’t be easy. But the privacy agenda is moving forward. “We are at the stage of proving out or solutions,” Schuh said
The tech giant believes that by undermining the business model of many ad-supported websites, blunt approaches to cookies encourage the use of opaque techniques such as fingerprinting (an invasive workaround to replace cookies), which can actually reduce user privacy and control.
The company is developing techniques to detect and mitigate covert tracking and workarounds by launching new anti-fingerprinting measures to discourage deceptive and intrusive techniques. It plans to launch these initiatives later this year.