Google has initiated the process of deactivating third-party cookies for a fraction of Chrome users, marking a significant step in their Privacy Sandbox project. Announced previously, this move began by deactivating cookies for around one percent of Chrome’s global users on January 4. Considering Chrome’s dominant position in the browser market with over 50% share, this action impacted approximately 30 million users, according to Gizmodo.
Users in this initial rollout are being notified upon opening their browsers that they are among the first to experience Tracking Protection. This feature limits websites from tracking them using third-party cookies while they browse. Anticipating potential website disruptions due to this change, Google is allowing users to temporarily re-enable third-party cookies by using an eye icon newly placed on the browser bar.
Google’s Privacy Sandbox project aims to offer an alternative to cookies, ensuring ad personalization while safeguarding user privacy. It categorizes users into groups based on their browsing activities to help advertisers match them with relevant ads without the need for invasive tracking. Unlike cookies, all data processing occurs on the user’s device, with Google storing user interests for a limited three-week period. However, this initiative has raised concerns among regulators who fear it may further consolidate Google’s dominance. Google intends to proceed with the phased rollout of Tracking Protection over the upcoming months, aiming to disable third-party cookies for all Chrome users by mid-2024.