On January 14, Google dropped some bombshell news on its Chromium blog, Building a more private web: A path towards making third party cookies obsolete. Google is to phase out those third-party cookies over the next couple of years by removing its support from them on the Chrome browsers.
Safari and Mozilla have eliminated those types of cookies already. But Google is deliberately opting for the gradual pace of two years rather than a hard stop. It explained its motivation to do so in rather noble terms:
“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.”
It cites increasing demands for privacy and individuals’ right not to be tracked as motivating the move, but there could be more to it.
Ending cookies does not mean ending tracking
Having the cookie option eliminated likely raises alarm along marketers, as it has become a key instrument for tracking consumers online. However, eliminating cookies is not going to turn the Chrome browser into DuckDuckGo which promises a track-free experience.
As the Verge’s report on the news pointed out, Google intends to put out cookie alternatives that could provide marketers with data without being overly “invasive and annoying.” In fact, the new solutions are touted as being better for marketers, as well, making it possible to ”ensure that the infrastructure many sites use for logins don’t break, and help provide some level of anonymous tracking so advertisers can know if their ads actually converted into sales”.
Whether or not the new solutions will pan out will only become apparent over time. For now, the challenge for Google is to live up to the new climate of stricter privacy regulation that is no longer an issue that can be considered one only for those dealing with the EU – now that we have CCPA.