Google has postponed its plan to phase out third-party cookie support in Chrome until the end of 2023 in an effort to get it right for end users and web publishers. Since their invention by a Netscape engineer in 1994, cookies have been used as a means to indirectly collect third-party data from users based on the sites they visit online. Marketers and advertisers buy this data and use it to display personalized ads to users. However, third-party cookies are also used to create user profiles, which can lead to unwanted online tracking. That's why Google revealed its intention to replace them last year. As part of that effort, the search giant introduced a new tracking system called Federated Learning of Cohorts or FLoC for short that places thousands of users into groups called cohorts based on their browsing habits instead of creating individual profiles using cookies. FLoC has encountered resistance from other browser makers and tech companies, and that's probably one of the reasons Google has decided to delay its plan to remove third-party cookies.
Google's plan to block third-party cookies is part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative that aims to create web technologies that protect user privacy online while still allowing web publishers to make money. In a new blog post, Chrome's director of privacy engineering, Vinay Goel, explained that blocking third-party cookies too quickly could end up jeopardizing the business models of many web publishers. Also, if cookies are blocked entirely, web publishers and advertisers may resort to more invasive alternatives, such as fingerprinting, which allows companies to track users without their consent based on the characteristics of their computer or their location. So far, Google and other browser manufacturers have made more than 30 proposals to get rid of third-party cookies. The search giant's new goal is to roll out its alternative by the end of 2022 so the developer community can start adopting it. Thereafter, Chrome could remove third-party cookies for a period of three months from mid-2023 to the end of 2023. Google will provide a more detailed schedule on its Privacy Sandbox website, which will be updated regularly so that users developers and publishers can plan their testing and migration schedules.