Google has officially announced the commencement date for its long-anticipated move to block third-party cookies in its Chrome browser. Starting from January 4th, Google will begin a gradual process to phase out these cookies.
This initiative is a part of Google’s larger Privacy Sandbox project, which aims to enhance user privacy on the internet while balancing the needs of advertisers. The initial phase of this project will impact 1% of Chrome users worldwide, encompassing both desktop and Android versions. These users will be notified of the change when they open their browser.
The blocking of third-party cookies will be set as the default configuration in Chrome. However, users participating in the initial phase will have the option to disable this setting temporarily for specific sites if they encounter functionality issues. This is particularly relevant as some websites may not load correctly or display all information if trackers are disabled.
For users who wish to allow third-party cookies on certain websites, Google Chrome provides a manual option. By clicking on an eye-shaped icon in the address bar, users can reactivate these cookies. It’s important to note that if these cookies are not re-blocked by the user, Chrome will automatically reapply the block after 90 days.
Google’s broader plan is to completely eliminate third-party cookies in Chrome for all its users by the second half of 2024. However, this timeline is contingent upon the decisions and oversight of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is currently supervising the implementation of the Privacy Sandbox initiative.
This strategic move by Google is not just a significant development for Chrome but also represents a pivotal moment for the company’s business model. It aligns Chrome with other major browsers like Safari, Firefox, Brave, and even Microsoft Edge, which have already been blocking third-party cookies by default.
On the business front, the elimination of third-party cookies will push Google to find new methods of monetizing the web that do not infringe on user privacy. The company is working on a new system called ‘Topics’, which will replace the conventional web trackers and the previously failed FloC initiative. ‘Topics’ will use the last three weeks of a user’s Chrome browsing history to identify trends, allowing websites to display ads that are somewhat personalized but do not enable cross-website tracking. This is seen as a part of Google’s effort to strike a balance between personalization and privacy.