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Google Hits Pause on Third-Party Cookie Phase-Out, Again

Google delays ending support for third-party cookies in Chrome, citing ecosystem unpreparedness, and pushes back the timeline for the Privacy Sandbox initiative.

In a move that may come as a relief to advertisers and website owners, Google has announced another delay in its plans to end support for third-party cookies in the Chrome browser. Initially set to expire in 2022, the deadline has been pushed back multiple times, with the latest target date now unknown.

For users, this delay may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it has significant implications for online privacy, advertising, and the way websites function. Third-party cookies are small text files stored on your device by websites apart from the one you’re currently visiting. They’re used to tracking your movements between sites, allowing advertising networks, social media widgets, and web analytics systems to monitor your behaviour. This tracking enables targeted advertising, personalized content, and website optimization.

The Privacy Sandbox Initiative

Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative aims to strike a balance between user privacy and the need for advertisers and websites to track user behaviour. The initiative proposes replacing third-party cookies with alternative APIs that prioritize user privacy while still allowing for targeted advertising and website optimization.

Alternative APIs

Instead of relying on third-party cookies, Google proposes the following APIs:

  1. FedCM (Federated Credential Management): Enables unified identity services that ensure privacy and work without third-party cookies.
  2. Private State Tokens: Allow for user authentication without cross-site identifiers, separating users without tracking cookies.
  3. Topics: Replaces the FLoC API, enabling the definition of user interest categories without identifying individual users. Interests are calculated based on browsing activity and stored on the user’s device.
  4. Protected Audience: Solves retargeting and audience assessment issues, working with users who have already visited a site before.
  5. Attribution Reporting: Evaluates advertising effectiveness, such as transitions and conversions (e.g., purchases on a site after a transition).
  6. Storage Access API: Requests user permission to access cookie storage if third-party cookies are blocked by default.

What This Means for Users

The delay in ending support for third-party cookies may seem like a minor setback, but it has significant implications for online privacy and the way websites function. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • More time for advertisers and websites to adapt: The delay gives advertisers and website owners more time to adapt to the new APIs and ensure a smoother transition.
  • Improved user privacy: The alternative APIs prioritize user privacy, reducing the risk of tracking and data misuse.
  • Enhanced user experience: The new APIs enable more targeted advertising and personalized content, enhancing the overall user experience.

As of publishing this, it is currently planned for the end of 2024, but looking at the trends, it might get pushed to 2025.

Via Privacy sandbox

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