Google pushes back deadline for killing off tracking cookies in Chrome

Google pushes back deadline for killing off tracking cookies in Chrome

Third-party cookies won’t be withdrawn from Chrome until H2 2024. Google has published a revised timeline for ridding Chrome of third-party tracking cookies, the technology used to gather data on web users as they browse.

In a blog post, the company explained it will now aim to begin sunsetting the controversial technology by the “second half of 2024”, which represents a delay of at least nine months.

Google stated that feedback from industry stakeholders, many of whom thought that additional time was required to assess the impact of the alternative mechanisms offered under the company’s Privacy Sandbox effort, drove the decision to postpone the withdrawal of cookies from its web browser.

Cookies live on

In response to criticism that the technology permits egregious privacy breaches, Google first announced plans to remove tracking cookies from Chrome in 2020.

Google faces a race against time to create new technologies that perform the same function as cookies but not compromising user privacy to the same degree because its business model is based on the collecting of massive amounts of data to support targeted advertising campaigns.

Attaining this goal has proven to be as challenging as it seems thus far. Privacy advocates roundly condemned the original idea, FLoC, calling it a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

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Google said in January that it would replace FLoC with a system similar to FLoC called Topics, which provides a mechanism to serve up advertising based on general interest categories as opposed to using specific and frequently sensitive data collected by cookies.

The technology categorizes users into several buckets based on three weeks’ worth of surfing data that is saved locally on-device, which in turn determines what kinds of adverts the user will see. Users on the web are always free to disable any topic using their browser.

The system Google appears to be pursuing as it presses forward with plans to leave third-party cookies behind, despite ongoing protest, is Topics. Topics is now being tested alongside a variety of other distinct APIs created as part of the Privacy Sandbox program.

“We’re grateful to be working with companies across the industry who are invested in developing privacy-first experiences on the web,” wrote Google.

“The Privacy Sandbox initiative is an ambitious undertaking for the entire industry, and we look forward to continuing to engage with the web community as testing expands.”

Although Google is making all the right noises, it seems that the deadline for the banning of cookies is only a name-only deadline. Further delays cannot be ruled out because the change won’t go into effect until Google is prepared and ready, which may take some time.

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