February 27, 2024

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Google will turn off third-party cookies completely in the second half of 2024

Google will turn off third-party cookies completely in the second half of 2024

Google is about to launch its big plan to block third-party cookies in Chrome that many websites use to track your activity across the web for profit.

Starting January 4th, Google will begin testing a new Tracking Protection feature that will eventually restrict a website’s access to third-party cookies by default. It will reach a very small subset of Chrome users initially, specifically one percent of users globally. After that, Google plans to phase out the use of third-party cookies for all users in the second half of 2024.

If you’re randomly selected to try Tracking Protection, Google will notify you when you open Chrome on desktop or Android. If Chrome detects issues while you’re browsing, a message will appear asking if you’d like to temporarily re-enable third-party cookies for the site.

You will receive this notification if you are opted into Tracking Protection.
Image: Google

Google has been working on a way to eliminate the need for cookies in Chrome since 2020, and later introduced it into its Privacy Sandbox initiative. The company’s general idea is to transfer anonymized user browsing data to advertisers, who in turn can use APIs provided by Google to conduct their advertising business in a way that better protects user privacy. The Topics API was released in July for developers to begin testing, and became available for Chrome users to try in September.

Google’s approach to cookie-free advertising appears to be beneficial for both privacy-focused users and advertisers’ business in general compared to other web browsers that take more restrictive approaches to preventing cross-site tracking. However, Google’s competitors and privacy advocates aren’t entirely convinced by the cookie-replacement technology.

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Meanwhile, regulators like the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are monitoring Google’s new Tracking Protection system to ensure it doesn’t give the company an unfair advantage in selling its own ads. With that in mind, Google says it’s hedging its second-half 2024 target to launch the feature globally in case it needs time to address “any remaining competition concerns.”