On January 14, Google announced it would phase out the use of third-party cookies on its Chrome web browser. The firm explained it’s making the change in response to user demands for greater privacy. Moreover, the Big Tech giant said it would work with the broader online ecosystem to implement its initiative within two years.
Why Google is Banning Third-Party Cookies
Although Google is known for driving innovation, the company is following an existing trend by banning tracking cookies. In 2017, Apple began blocking third-party user tracking through its Safari browser. Two years later, Mozilla implemented the same restriction on its Firefox application. Besides, a major world power has moved to curb advertising related online data collection.
In 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation mandated that websites available within its sphere of influence give consumers the ability to opt-out of having their web browsing information tracked. Similarly, the U.S. government has scrutinized Silicon Valley’s data-handling practices in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
As such, Google’s decision to ban tracking cookies only makes sense in the wake of shifting cultural and market forces. Nevertheless, the corporation’s new initiative will have a significant impact on how the Internet works. Indeed, according to Statcounter, Chrome has a 63.6 percent share of the global Internet browser market. Therefore, more people use the company’s platform to get online than every other service combined.
Market Consolidation Concerns
In addition, Google currently commands a larger share of online advertising spending than any other entity. This year, the firm will represent an estimated 36.76 percent of the digital marketing sector, which translates to $43.74 billion in revenue.
That said, the corporation’s methodology of implementing its third-party cookie ban indicates its goal isn’t market consolidation. In its policy update announcement, the company acknowledged “blunt” approaches to resolving the tracking cookie problem have been problematic. Specifically, the firm notes that past cookie crackdowns have caused advertisers to find “workarounds” that have violated user policy.
Accordingly, the technology company’s cookie phase-out initiative will be both transparent and collaborative. With help from other service providers, Google plans to develop an open set of standards to preserve user privacy without harming ad-supported businesses. Indeed, the corporation is asking technology vendors, developers, and site owners to contribute via email or GitHub.
It’s also worth remembering, Google has instituted paradigmatic shifts in how the web functions before with outside input. In particular, the corporation wound down Chrome support for Flash and NPAPI incrementally to minimize user disruption.
Undoubtedly, Google’s ban on third-party tracking cookies will have a significant effect on how the global Internet functions. In the future, publishers may restrict access to their content to registered members only. But as digital privacy has become a worldwide concern, the firm couldn’t sit on its hands. As such, its democratic approach toward reform seems like the best pathway forward.