Google’s Plan to Rid the Web of Third-Party Cookies Pushed for Late 2024

While the plan for a future without third-party cookies is still on course, Chrome users will have to wait another two years for it to be fully realised. Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative was announced in 2019 and initially set for a 2022 release. However, Google recently announced its plans for the Sandbox to go live in 2024, two more years from now. 

Whatever your stance is on third-party cookies; Google seems to be pushing full steam ahead with their plans to completely remove them from the online world. Although it has been delayed by another two years, that doesn’t take away from the urgency with which a solution is being called for. Google is taking the removal of third-party cookies very seriously. 

What are Third-Party Cookies?

Third-party cookies are cookies that are placed by another website on a website that a user may be on currently. These cookies don’t always relate to the website that is being visited and are not placed there by that website. Rather, these cookies live under a different domain. A simple example of a third-party cookie is a live chat or support bot that is provided by a third-party service. 

What these third-party cookies allow, then, is for your web history and past site visits to be tracked and traced by your web browser which will have stored the third-party cookie. This is why users will often get content and suggestions related to past browsing by other websites that make use of third-party cookies and their web browsers that use these cookies to send them targeted marketing and advertising. 

Third-party cookies have long been a major player in online marketing. Marketers have built businesses by being able to track online users’ web movements and subsequently target them with specific ads and content. The idea behind these cookies is that if users are going to see ads anyway, they might as well be related to their interests. 

As you’ll read below, not everybody is on board with the philosophy behind third-party cookies.

What is the Privacy Sandbox?

The Privacy Sandbox is Google’s efforts to create new standards and better privacy on websites when it comes to accessing user information through advertising and targeted content. They plan on achieving this by the removal of third-party cookies, with the goal being to protect users’ privacy online and facilitate advertisements without the use of these third-party cookies. 

There has been an increasing rise in calls for better privacy laws online as well as better protection for users online. Consumers and regulators alike have been steadily calling for an increase in efforts to minimize and eventually remove the use of third-party cookies in online advertising, as they say, these cookies and their functions violate individual freedom online and capture user information without their knowledge. 

Why the Delay?

In short, Google has stated that the tool to block third-party apps needs more time to develop and be perfected. In their efforts to develop it in the best way possible, they have been steadily releasing trial versions of new Privacy Sandbox application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers in their Chrome browser to try the tools out and test their effectiveness and useability.

One of these such trials was a developer preview for Android (the first one ever) that was recently released for manual installation only. 

These trials and processes included refining and clarifying design proposals, with inputs from the developers’ community, publishers, marketers, and regulators. They have mainly used forums like the World Wide Web Consortium for this feedback.

Google also reached an agreement earlier this year to work with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). This will provide input and direction on how Google can implement and release these new Privacy Sandbox features.

Although these many modes of feedback are helpful, suggestions that Google needs more time to test, monitor, and evaluate the Privacy Sandbox’s technologies and features before removing third-party cookies on Chrome have become evident.

“This feedback aligns with our commitment to the CMA to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions,” says Anthony Chaves, who is the VP of Privacy Sandbox. He continues, “This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the web can continue to thrive, without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting.” 

It’s quite apparent that Google is in no hurry to roll out this new technology. They are making sure that their tool is perfect before implementing it on Chrome. While developers will be given early access to test the new Privacy Sandbox APIs this year, Google does plan on expanding this access to more users globally by 2023. They say that these users will be added to the Sandbox trial and be given a prompt that will allow them to opt-out if they wish to do so.

Overall, these tests and the feedback provided by the developer community will continue to help Google make the necessary improvements and achieve its goal of release in 2024. Google has said that they are “grateful to be working with companies across the industry who are invested in developing privacy-first experiences on the web, and will be testing Privacy Sandbox in the coming months.”

The Final Say

Overall, Google’s big picture plan is to slowly phase out and remove all third-party cookies by the second half of 2024, beginning with Chrome. Google Chrome is one of the most prominent and popular browsers when it comes to laptops, desktops, and Chromebooks

Chrome is used by millions of people all over the world, and the Privacy Sandbox provides a unique solution to completely block large-scale third-party cookies that continue to undermine these users’ privacy with well-hidden and hard-to-notice techniques, including fingerprinting and cross-site tracking, just to list a couple. 

If you’re interested in following along with Google’s plan and tracking their Sandbox progress, they’ve provided a timeline for you to do just that. 

Bring on 2024.