Google delays the expiration of third-party cookies in Chrome again

Google is once again delaying the end of third-party cookies in Chrome, a goal the company set for itself a few years ago, but which it doesn’t achieve for various reasons, although there is basically only one: to maintain control of the advertising system. on which the company has been based for several decades.

Cookies are small files that your browser downloads in the background for every site you visit and are, in many cases, necessary to provide the experience a user expects. Cookies are necessary, for example, so that the website does not ask you for your password every time you return, to remember the settings you have made, etc.

However, third-party cookies are primarily focused on user tracking, which is not always a bad thing. Another example: if you are one of those people who likes to share news by clicking on the Facebook, Twitter or similar buttons that are usually included in the articles you read on the Internet, know that you would not be able to do it without them.

Now that the use of third-party cookies is most common, it’s an advertising marketplace, and in fact Google’s personalized advertising system is based on them, so it’s no surprise that they thought very well before touching it. This had to be done for privacy reasons, as well as for efficiency reasons, given the advent of tracking blockers.

The first thing Google did was block third-party cookies that were not transmitted over encrypted channels, i.e. HTTPS, thereby increasing the security of these elements, which, after all, are most likely to be used at the expense of privacy. and user safety. They later implemented the SameSite attribute to restrict the use of third party cookies, legal or not.

Fixes aside, a third-party cookie replacement that Google has been working on, FLoC (for federated learning cohorts), has indeed eliminated the potential security flaws of the traditional method, but at the expense of having to navigate everything through hoops from the internet giant. This means browsers , based on Chromium, should have accepted it “yes” or “yes”, but, as expected, this did not happen.

But FLoC was not only opposed by browsers like Brave or Vialdi: FLoC’s favoritism towards Google as a monopoly in online advertising caused alarm on various sides and doubts about the appropriateness, but also about the legality of the initiative. Then many questions were asked: will the new Google system be compatible with the European GDPR? A year later, the company abandoned this idea.

So Google abandoned FLoC and replaced it with what was originally called Topics, a new API later renamed Privacy Sandbox. Which in principle is almost the same, this is an improved tracking system, safer on paper, since the specified information is not distributed among thousands of different “partners”, at least not directly, but until then: control will still be in the hands Google.

However, the implementation of the Privacy Sandbox will take a long time, and this time Google wants to get more consensus among developers, because the more consensus, the less problems there will be in the future, especially among regulators. and consumer protection. To do this, the company gave itself a deadline until 2023, thereby expanding the estimated margin.

By developers, yes, Google does not mean its competitors, but the web developers responsible for implementing the technology. Everything will start testing from 2023 and, if consolidated, third-party cookies will disappear from Chrome in the second half of 2024. From Chrome or, equivalently, from the Internet. If, in addition to adaptation, add the market share of the browser, then everything is said.

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