Google Sets The Timer On The End Of Third-Party Cookies

Seattle, USA - Aug 19, 2019: The new Google building in the south lake union area at twilight.

Google has announced it plans to “phase out” its support of for third-party cookies in Chrome within the next two years.

In a post, Google’s director of Chrome engineering Justin Schuh said the aim is to help create a “private and secure” web environment that can also support publishers.

“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,” Schuh said.

Unlike browser competitors Safari and Firefox, which now block third-party cookies by default, Google plans to take a more gradual approach.

“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,” Schuh said.

“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. We believe that we as a community can, and must, do better.”

Critical to this is the ‘Privacy Sandbox’, which was announced by Google last year as a way to protect user privacy while also promoting free access to content and promoting publishers.

“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,” Schuh said.

“Once these approaches have addressed the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers, and we have developed the tools to mitigate workarounds, we plan to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome.”

While the Privacy Sandbox has drawn mostly positive feedback, including from the W3C forum, Schuh did concede there has been some pushback.

“I’m not going to say that everyone has been on board for all of our proposals. But in all corners, some of the proposals have been received very well,” he said.

Alongside the proposed phasing out of third-party cookies, Google has also announced it will be reviewing its other web tracking technologies, such as treating cookies that do not include Google’s SameSite label as first-party only.

Schuh also said Google is in the process of developing techniques to detect covert and deceptive workarounds such as fingerprinting.

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