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Google To Curtail Third-Party Cookies To Tackle Privacy Criticism

Google To Curtail Third-Party Cookies To Tackle Privacy Criticism

The phase-out will happen over a period of two years

The move is an extension of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative announced in August 2019

Google plans to start the first origin trials by the end of this year

Global tech giant Google plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome. “We plan to start the first origin trials by the end of this year, starting with conversion measurement and following with personalization,” Google said in its blog post.

The move is an update of Google’s initiative announced in August 2019, called the Privacy Sandbox, to develop a set of open standards to enhance privacy on the web. “Our goal for this open-source initiative is to make the web more private and secure for users, while also supporting publishers,” the company said.

With this, the company also sought help from the public in increasing the privacy of web browsing. The plan is to restrict advertising software companies and others from connecting their browser cookies to websites not operated by them.

Cookies are a tool within browsers that allow website operators to save data about users. Third-party cookies are placed by advertisers. A website can use a number of different third-party cookies to collect user information.

Many companies have been placing cookies on nearly every website. They share data received through this with advertisers, who predict the ads that would be relevant to users. However, concerns have often been raised on data privacy as cookies can help websites store user data such as language preference, currency among others.

“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,” Google said.

The tech giant believes that 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.

The company is developing techniques to detect and mitigate covert tracking and workarounds by launching new anti-fingerprinting measures to discourage deceptive and intrusive techniques. It plans to launch these initiatives later this year.

“We are working actively across the ecosystem so that browsers, publishers, developers, and advertisers have the opportunity to experiment with these new mechanisms, test whether they work well in various situations, and develop supporting implementations, including ad selection and measurement, denial of service (DoS) prevention, anti-spam/fraud, and federated authentication,” the blog post said.

This comes at a time the Indian government has been finalising the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill. The bill was recently tabled in the Lok Sabha and has been referred to a select committee of Parliament. The bill has gathered criticism from many corners for allowing law enforcement agencies to process personal data of users without consent for “reasonable purposes”.

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