Google To Phase Out Third-Party Cookies Within Two Years 01/15/2020

Illustration Sarah Grillo  Axios

Illustration Sarah Grillo Axios

In an effort to "re-architect the standard the web", Google announced that it'd drop support for third-party cookies in Chrome withing two years.

Users today are demanding greater privacy - including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used.

Worse for third-party cookies, Google will also start to limit the functionality of third-party cookies from next month.

In its place, Google will introduce a new set of technologies that are less invasive for users.

Rivals such as Safari and Firefox have already moved to block third-party cookies, but Google suggested changing too fast could have "unintended consequences that can negatively impact both users and the web ecosystem". And, as CNBC notes, that browser will have "tracking prevention" enabled from the outset. "There's been a lot of focus around third-party cookies, and that certainly is one of the tracking mechanisms, but that's just a tracking mechanism and we're calling it out because it's the one that people are paying attention to". Most likely, many of us aren't using the real Chrome Apps at all, even if we use web apps most of the time. The goal is to make the Privacy Sandbox an open standard on which industry players can all submit feedback.

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Unsurprisingly, it is Chrome OS users that will enjoy support for longer, but over the course of the next couple of years Google will be "phasing out support for Chrome Apps across all operating systems".

A Google spokesperson told CNN Business that Chrome calls on the entire ecosystem to engage with its proposals, reiterating that it will only phase out third-party cookies once the needs of users, advertisers and publishers are met. Google also relies on third-party cookies for ads it serves on other sites, which would be affected if Chrome were to stop supporting them, the spokesperson added.

His fear is that without third-party cookies, the ad industry will resort to more invasive forms of tracking that users can not escape.

Google said simply blocking cookies was not a good solution because it has encouraged the use of "fingerprinting" techniques to track people which some say are more insidious than cookies. This can include profiling your computer's specs, the add-ons, fonts installed, and browser preferences when you visit a website.

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