Google Chrome to Phase Out Third-Party Cookie Support by 2022

Google plans to make browsing the web more privacy-friendly

What: Google Chrome, the most popular browser on the Web, will no longer support third-party cookies (those from places other than the site you’re currently on) within two years.

How: Google will start by enforcing new restrictions on how sites identify users and how current third-party cookies can interact with web surfers.

Why Do You Care: Without third-party cookies, sites will have a much harder time tracking your online activities. 

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We could be witnessing the end of questions like, “Why am I seeing shoe ads on every single site I visit just because I shopped for shoes on Amazon?” Google’s plan to end support for third-party cookies within two years will make it much harder for web sites and services to pick up on activities outside their own web sites.

The plan, which Google announced in a blog post on Tuesday, won’t block first-party cookies (those dropped on you by the site you’re visiting) but will definitely change how links and buttons supported by site partners track your online activities. If, for instance, a site has a Facebook Like button, that button will no longer carry a Facebook cookie which Facebook has often used to track your clicks and surfing habits across that initial site and many others after it.

The decision to phase out third-party cookie support is part of Google’s broader Privacy Sandbox initiative, which the company unveiled in August. Privacy Sandbox seeks to improve web standards for privacy while supporting “free access to content.”

“Our goal,” Google wrote back then, “is to create a set of standards that is more consistent with users’ expectations of privacy.”

Removing support for third-party cookies is the first major step, but Google will only start “origin trials” by the end of this year. In the meantime, February marks the beginning of Chrome limiting cross-site tracking for third-party cookies that do not include a “SameSite” label. In other words, they won’t be able to track you on your journey to the next web site.

“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,” wrote Director, Chrome Engineering Justin Schuh.

You can, obviously, block third-party cookies on all browsers right now. However, Google’s change will make ultimately it impossible for those cookies to work on the platform.

Google efforts are good news for securing the privacy of your browsing habits, but some might argue that no one knows more about what you do online (certainly what you search for) than Google. It’s unclear if or how Google’s privacy efforts impact that sometimes uncomfortable reality.