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Google to ditch cookies in Chrome

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Google has announced it will end support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser as part of measures designed to improve user privacy.

Third-party cookies are typically used by advertisers to track where users go on the web so they can target ads at them based on their interests and preferences.

Other web browsers have already started proactively blocking theses cookies, but Google said this could have “unintended consequences that can negatively impact both users and the web ecosystem”.

Instead, Google wants Chrome and other browsers to implement a 'Privacy Sandbox' that will still allow firms to provide targeted ads to web users without being able to identify specific people.

Google said it plans to “phase out” support for third-party cookies over the course of the next two years in a move designed to “fundamentally enhance privacy”.

Defending its approach, Google said that ending any form of tracking would undermine the business models of many ad-supported websites and even encourage “blunt approaches” such as “fingerprinting” which actually reduces the level of privacy and control that users have.

Chrome will start limiting insecure cross-site tracking, starting in February, by treating cookies that don’t include a SameSite label as first-party only and require cookies labelled for third-party use to be accessed over HTTPS.

It also intends to launch “anti-fingerprinting measures” later this year that will detect use of the technique and try to mitigate it.

“Users are demanding greater privacy, including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands,” said Justin Schuh, director of Chrome engineering at Google.

The work is part of the company’s Privacy Sandbox initiative announced in August, which aims to build a more private but “healthy, ad-supported web”.

In December 2019, Google added a new feature to Chrome that will alert users if their login credentials have been compromised in a security breach after first releasing it as an optional extension in February.

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