Google starts phasing out third-party cookies on Chrome

Posted by Edith MacLeod on 10 Jan, 2024
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A complete phase-out is planned from Q3 2024 but selected sites can request a delay to ease transition.

Third-party cookies.

Image: Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

**Update 8 Feb: The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said that Google cannot proceed with deprecation of third-party cookies until its concerns as resolved. See below for further details.

Google has started rolling out a new feature which blocks third-party cookies in Chrome.  Tracking Protection restricts website access to third-party cookies by default, and so limits cross-site tracking. 

The small-scale rollout to 1% of Chrome users globally started on 4 January and Google plans to phase out third-party cookies completely in the second half of 2024.

A third-party cookie is a small block of data based on a user’s device by a website other than the one the user is currently visiting. It is used to track browsing history and so enable personalised ads. Many marketers rely heavily on third party cookies for targeted advertising, so the move will shake up the world of advertising.

Users for the Tracking Protection trial which started this week are selected randomly and you’ll be notified when you open Chrome if you’re one of the 1%.

If Chrome notices you’re having issues with a website, third-party cookies can be temporarily re-enabled for that site.

Deprecation trial for additional time

Amid concerns from advertisers Google has now offered a temporary reprieve, allowing embedded sites and services to request a delay to 27 Dec 2024 to enable a smoother transition.

“For an easier transition through the deprecation process, we are offering a third-party deprecation trial which allows embedded sites and services to request additional time to migrate away from third-party cookie dependencies for non-advertising use cases.”

The deprecation trial allows sites to remporarily re-enable third-party cookies, but there are strict eligibility conditions, and a review and approval process for participation.

Providers have to demonstrate functional breakages in user journeys. Advertising use cases are ineligible.

The principles governing the deprecation trial are:

  • Preserving user-critical functionality: This deprecation trial is intended for third-party providers that demonstrate functional breakage in user journeys.
  • Limiting user tracking: The deprecation trial is not intended to support cross-site tracking for advertising purposes, and as such third-party embeds and services used for advertising are not eligible.”

Google says developers are expected to make the necessary changes and plans by the trial end date of 27 Dec.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox post on the depreciation trial gives full details of eligibility and review processes, and how to apply.

** Update 8 Feb:

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has said that competition concerns relating to Google's Privacy Sandbox must be resolved before the platform proceeds with the deprecation of third-party cookies.

"Google cannot proceed with third-party cookie deprecation until our concerns are resolved. Once a resolution is achieved, Google will be able to remove third-party cookies without delay. Subject to our concerns being resolved, Google intends to deprecate third-party cookies in the second half of 2024."

For more details see the CMA's statement in full.

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