Google to drop support for third party cookies in Chrome

Illustration by Tam Nguyen  Ad Age

Credit Illustration by Tam Nguyen Ad Age

Google on Tuesday said is making progress in its quest to vanquish third-party "cookies" on its popular browser used to track people's online activities, a focus of many privacy activists.

"Users are demanding greater privacy, including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used, and it's clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands", said Justin Schuh, director of Chrome engineering at Google.

"After initial dialogue with the web community, we are confident that with continued iteration and feedback, privacy-preserving and open-standard mechanisms like the Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete", the company said in a statement. In Safari, Apple chose to simply block third-party cookies, Google says this simply encouraged advertisers and other companies to use more subversive methods of tracking.

The same technologies also mean the ad industry can theoretically track what millions of users are doing on the web without their consent. "Some browsers have reacted to these concerns by blocking third-party cookies, but we believe this has unintended consequences that can negatively impact both users and the web ecosystem".

Worse for third-party cookies, Google will also start to limit the functionality of third-party cookies from next month. And, as CNBC notes, that browser will have "tracking prevention" enabled from the outset.

Google had previously announced that it would be killing off Chrome Apps and the process began by terminating the Chrome Web Store towards the end of 2017. First-party cookies created by the website the person is on will not be affected.

Chrome Extensions will remain supported, and while superficially these function the same way as apps in some cases, they operate more as browser plugins than distinct apps, so they'll be hanging around. However, Google didn't follow through with the plan and chose to wait until more Desktop PWAs became available to install on the platforms. However, advertising firms can work around the cookie blocking by using a technique called "fingerprinting" to try and identify your internet presence. Those searching on engines or visiting websites through its browser will have increased security.

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