NEWS25 June 2021

Google delays end of third-party cookies

News North America Privacy Technology

US – Google has postponed its plans to phase out third-party cookies on its Chrome browser to allow for greater public discussion on the proposals  and to work with regulators.

Google offices London_crop

The abolition of third-party cookies was initially announced in January 2020 and was supposed to be completed before the end of 2021. Third-party cookies are widely used by many advertisers to target their advertising effectively.

Google said in a blog post by Vinay Goel, privacy engineering director at Google Chrome, that the changes would now be postponed by two years, with testing due to start in late 2022 and third-party cookies to be phased out over a three-month period in late 2023.

Google also said that it would seek to engage with regulators such as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK. The CMA recently launched a market study into whether Google’s effective control over mobile phone operating systems, app stores and web browsers could be detrimental to consumers.

The company’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, which is leading Google’s third-party cookie work, will work to create more private approaches in key areas, such as advertising measurement, delivering relevant advertising and fraud detection.

Google had already been testing a Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) tool to remove third-party cookies with a small number of Google customers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines and the US.

Goel wrote that the delay would “allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services”.

He added: “This is important to avoid jeopardising the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content.

“By providing privacy-preserving technology, we as an industry can help ensure that cookies are not replaced with alternative forms of individual tracking, and discourage the rise of covert approaches like fingerprinting.”