Google, which is the only major browser not to block third-party cookies by default, has revised its commitment to phase out third-party cookies by 2022.
The super-body biscotticide is now expected to begin in mid-2023 and continue through the end of 2023.
Third-party cookies refer to tracking files deposited in their browser when visiting a website that includes code that interacts with third-party domains. Companies associated with these domains, usually marketing and analytics companies, check for the presence of their cookies on different websites and use this information to create marketing profiles and target behavioral advertising.
In doing so, they deny people’s privacy, without too much friction with Chrome, the window through which much of Google’s web advertising activity operates. A few years ago, Apple, Brave, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Vivaldi started blocking third-party cookies by default in their respective browsers, sensing the opportunity to compete with Google in taking privacy seriously.
That said, Microsoft Edge’s default can be characterized as shy, although it uses the term “balanced” to indicate that Microsoft is okay with certain third-party cookies to minimize app bad behavior)
Google’s announcement in January 2020 that it would phase out third-party cookies showed that privacy – or at least the commercialization of privacy – can no longer be ignored. But unwilling to give up on targeted advertising and web ad analytics, the ad giant embarked on the development of alternative ad technology that would provide similar data while ostensibly preserving privacy.
Since then, a series of such proposals – called the Privacy Sandbox – from Google and other advertising companies have been launched. The most notable of these has been FLoC or Federated Learning of Cohorts, a program aimed at dividing internet users into thousands of theoretically anonymous groups based on their interests and demographics.
Initial testing, involving around 34,000 cohorts, did not go very well. Doubts about Google’s privacy claims regarding FLoC persist, and other browser makers have moved away from the still-developing technology or outright disavowed it.
Among those willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt, there is still hope that other Privacy Sandbox proposals incubating with bird-themed names like FLEDGE may prove to be less controversial. But developing technical health specifications that can survive close scrutiny by security and privacy researchers, not to mention regulators, will take time.
Deadlines fly away
On Thursday, the Chocolaterie said it did not plan to complete the transition to third-party cookies until the end of 2023, almost two years after its original target date. The problem is, ad technology meant to take over where third-party cookies left off remains half-baked, there is no industry consensus yet on the way forward, and there are legal issues. to solve.
âFor Chrome, in particular, our goal is to roll out key technologies by the end of 2022 for the developer community to start adopting them,â said Vinay Goel, director of privacy engineering for Chrome, in a blog post.
âSubject to our engagement with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and in accordance with our proposed commitments, Chrome could then phase out third-party cookies over a three-month period, starting in mid- 2023 and ending at the end of 2023. “
Britain’s CMA said earlier this year it had received complaints from marketers that Google’s privacy sandbox plan was anti-competitive. And its interest has since widened to include the Apple App Store.
The time Google killed cookies coincides with when California will begin enforcing the California Privacy Rights Act on July 1, 2023. Under the CPRA, Google will have additional privacy and data processing obligations.
Via Twitter, Ashkan Soltani, privacy researcher and former Federal Trade Commission technologist, expressed disappointment with Google’s decision to delay the ban on third-party cookies.
“The greatest trick the devil has ever played was to convince reporters [and] policymakers that you can only have competition by reducing confidentiality, âSoltani said. âCookie blocking is independent of half-baked ad tracking proposals like FLoCâ¦ Google can block cookies. [without] the rest of “Privacy Sandbox”.
Google can. But he has other plans. Â®