Google has confirmed plans to make third-party cookies obsolete within the next two years, with an aim to ‘build a more private web’ according to an update released on the Chromium blog.
It is not the first browser to do so, but with Chrome having a 67% share of the browser market, this is a significant step.
The so-called ‘death of the third-party cookie’ began early last year, with Apple announcing a new tool to block third-party ad trackers at their WWDC event in June. A few months later, Firefox said that they were releasing an enhanced tracking protection feature, which would block all third-party cookies for users on the browser by default.
Speculation that Google would follow in the footsteps of the other browsers has been mounting since they announced their Privacy Sandbox initiative last August, with the aim of developing a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web.
Last September, Google was spotted adding a new ‘Block third-party cookies’ option to its latest Chrome Canary build. Now, the tech giant has confirmed it will be phasing out support for third-party cookies in Chrome.
However, Google has criticised the approach of other browsers, and says that it will take a more collaborative approach that will phase cookies out over time whilst looking for alternative solutions, rather than just offering a blocker.
In the blog post, the team write:
“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. 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. Our intention is to do this within two years. But we cannot get there alone, and that’s why we need the ecosystem to engage on these proposals.”
Google acknowledges that the demand for greater privacy and control over data is growing stronger, and that the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these demands.
“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. 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.”
Instead, Google will be working with publishers, developers and advertisers to create standards, and alternatives over the next two years that will make third-party cookies more secure, and will give users more precise cookie controls.
What does this mean for publishers?
For many publishers, this move will not be a surprise. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a concern.