Recently, at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Google announced that they are moving away from third-party cookies. The initiative behind their move will involve the Privacy Sandbox technology taking the place of internet cookies. Here is everything about Google’s move from third party cookies to their Privacy Sandbox technology:
At the time of the announcement, Google mentioned how they want to develop a more private and secure internet. They also said how they want to achieve their goal while still supporting the business of publishers. In a conversation with leading news portals, Justin Schuh, director of Chrome engineering at Google, mentioned how users have been demanding greater privacy. He also added that they wanted control over how their data is used and transparency in this process. Justin Schuh also said that in order to get there, the web ecosystem needs to evolve and meet the increasing demands of the times. In the process, Google will part way with third-party cookies and implement the Privacy Sandbox as its replacement.
While the effort seems to be in a direction towards the welfare of internet users, there are many people from the advertising space who seem to be unhappy with Google’s move. The disappointment over the ‘unilateral’ move made by Google has been pointed out by a statement from advertisers. Many are claiming that Google is trying to solidify its advertisement monopoly/oligopoly, with regards to Facebook.
Non-cynical take: This is a huge privacy win!— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) January 14, 2020
Cynical take: Google is weaponizing the anti-tech coalition’s confusion on privacy/competition trade-offs to lock in their 1st party ad oligopoly (alongside Facebook).
It’s probably both. https://t.co/zNiVciBbms
With Google’s announcement, they seem to indicate a path that would eventually make third party cookies obsolete, rather than moving away from them at the moment. The trials of Google’s Privacy Sandbox are to begin in 2020, and it seems logical to make an inference that Google will only remove support for third-party cookies once the Privacy Sandbox gets off the ground. Apple and Mozilla have already made moves similar to that of Google, with their browsers. However, Google says that merely blocking third party cookies can have unintended consequences. These consequences include workarounds such as ‘fingerprinting’, an invasive workaround that identifies aspects of the device and then tracks you using the identifiers.
For people who are unversed with what Google cookies or internet cookies are, they are small files that contain information on a user's online behaviour. When you visit a website, a third-party cookie is sent to your computer which is stored in your web browser. Google cookies or third-party cookies contain login information, website settings and other such pieces of information. Third-party cookies also contain information that can be used for targeted advertising. These third-party cookies have been a subject of privacy concerns in recent times.
Privacy Sandbox, instead, uses machine learning to study the browsing habits of the users who are grouped based on similar browsing patterns. These pieces of information collected by the privacy sandbox are stored on the web browser, unlike Google cookies or third-party cookies (that store information on the computer). In a nutshell, it appears that all of this has been implemented with privacy as the primary concern. However, we will still see targeted advertisements and browsing patterns being tracked. The only thing different henceforth is, third party cookies are likely to not be a part of the picture in the near future.