Six months after Google announced their new Privacy Sandbox initiative, the tech giant decided to join Safari and Firefox and make third-party cookies obsolete, with plans to increase the privacy of web browsing. However, Google opted for a phased approach unlike the other two browsers, which blocked third-party cookies completely.
Last August, Google’s initial goal was to set an open standard to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. They wanted to make the web more private and secure for users while also supporting publishers.
After an initial dialogue with the web community, Google said they’re confident that 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.
These approaches have largely addressed the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers, and tools were developed to mitigate workarounds.
The solutions offered by Google should, in theory, be less invasive than tracking cookies, while also allowing advertisers the chance to target specific demographics and provide ways to track conversions or ads performance.
Google’s timeline is not yet fully transparent, but their intention is to completely eliminate third-party cookies within two years. We know that Google plans to ignite the first origin trials by the end of this year, starting with conversion measurement and following with personalization.
Also check our blog post: New Changes and Challenges for Analysts: Safari Introduces the new ITP
Why Is Google Phasing Out Third-Party Cookies?
Users are demanding greater privacy, including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used. As a result, the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.
Some browsers have already reacted to these concerns by blocking third-party cookies, but Google believes 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. We believe that we as a community can, and must, do better,” said Google in an official announcement.
Google’s decision is largely based on feedback from the developer and analytics community in forums like the W3C. Largely, according to Google, the consensus is that the mechanisms underlying the Privacy Sandbox represent key use-cases and go in the right direction.
“This feedback, and related proposals from other standards participants, gives us confidence that solutions in this space can work. And our experience working with the standards community to create alternatives and phase out Flash and NPAPI has proven that we can come together to solve complex challenges,” added Google.
Although Chrome is not the only browser to render third-party cookies obsolete, Google’s approach is different than Safari or Firefox. The other browsers have “declared war” on cross-site tracking, but Google is trying to give businesses some space to breathe and not drastically hurt website revenue.
New Changes in Chrome
Google also announced that it will continue to work on making the current web technologies more secure and private.
Chrome will limit insecure cross-site tracking starting in February by treating cookies that don’t include a SameSite label as first-party only and require cookies labeled for third-party use to be accessed over HTTPS. This will make third-party cookies more secure and give users more precise browser cookie controls.
At the same time, Google is developing techniques to detect and mitigate covert tracking and workarounds by launching new anti-fingerprinting measures to discourage these kinds of deceptive and intrusive techniques, and hope to launch these measures later this year.
The tech giant is also actively working across the ecosystem so that browsers, publishers, developers, and advertisers have the opportunity to experiment with these new mechanisms, test whether they work well in various situations, and develop supporting implementations, including ad selection and measurement, denial of service (DoS) prevention, anti-spam/fraud, and federated authentication.
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