Google to phase out third-party cookies "within two years"

David Prior's picture

Google is to phase out third-party cookies on websites accessed via its Chrome browser.

The tech giant said it intends to take the step "within two years" as a response to increased concerns over web privacy.

In a blogpost, Chrome's director of engineering Justin Schuh said the aim of the initiative was to make the web "more private and secure for users, while also supporting publishers".

Cookies are small text files that are used to track users on the internet.

Schuh said: "Users are demanding greater privacy - including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used - and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.

"Some browsers have reacted to these concerns by blocking third-party cookies, but we believe this has unintended consequences that can negatively impact both users and the web ecosystem.

"By undermining the business model of many ad-supported websites, blunt approaches to cookies encourage the use of opaque techniques such as fingerprinting (an invasive workaround to replace cookies), which can actually reduce user privacy and control. We believe that we as a community can, and must, do better."

Other popular browsers, including Apple's Safari and Mozilla Firefox, have already introduced stricter restrictions on internet tracking.

And Microsoft's new Edge browser - built using the open-source Chromium source code originally developed by Google - also has greater restrictions on cookies.

DoubleVerify’s Managing Director, EMEA. Tanzil Bukhari, who previously worked at Google as Head of Agency Development, EMEA, said: "This was somewhat of an inevitable outcome, and I think most people were already expecting this to happen at some point. All the efforts from all the browser vendors over the past years has been to restrict cookies and user tracking in ever-increasing degree. Whether it’s browser companies or regulators, new changes in data privacy are downscaling third-party cookie tracking and collection.

"This will have a major impact on the category. Whole industries within it have been built on cookies to do anything ranging from A/B tests to ad targeting. It will take significant engineering across the industry to adapt to these new changes and for companies to find alternative solutions to the same problems."