Google Postpones Plan to Phase Out Third-Party Cookies, Again


Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies has been delayed and will not materialize for two more years. This week, the company said in a blog post that it is “expanding the testing windows for the Privacy Sandbox APIs” and will continue using third-party cookies for advertising until the second half of 2024.

The search and advertising giant’s original plan involved eliminating its reliance on third-party cookies later this year, giving the data privacy community a reason to celebrate. In 2019, the company announced the Privacy Sandbox, which garnered regulatory concerns from domestic and international organizations.

To assuage concerns, Google delayed the phaseout of third-party cookies, web fingerprinting, and related behavioral user tracking to mid-2023. During this time, the company earned the approval of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on “how we develop and release the Privacy Sandbox in Chrome worldwide,” wrote Google’s VP for Privacy Sandbox, Anthony Chavez.

“The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome. This feedback aligns with our commitment to the CMA to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions,” he added. CMA will also exploreOpens a new window alternative designs for the Privacy Sandbox tools.

Online advertising is the bread and butter for Google and contributed 80.77% of the company’s total revenue in Q2 2022Opens a new window , 80.37% in Q1 2022Opens a new window , and 81.31% in 2021Opens a new window . Google’s fortunes have risen over the years (including Q1 and Q2 2022), but its profits seem to have taken a hit. Q2 2022 was the second consecutive quarter that saw Google’s profit declining ($20.64 billion in Q4 2021, $14.43 billion in Q1 2022, and $16 billion in Q2 2022).

See More: Google Could Derail Antitrust Probe by Splitting Up Ad Business With Alphabet: WSJ

However, Google has received flak over the years from privacy advocates and is being investigated for sharing user advertising data with sanctioned Russia-based companies.

The current Privacy Sandbox initiative incorporates Topics APIOpens a new window , the replacement for the ill-fated Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC); first locally-executed decision over groups experiment’ or FLEDGE APIOpens a new window for remarketing, the Attribution Reporting APIOpens a new window for conversion measurement, Cookies Having Independent Partitioned State or CHIPs for cross-site tracking, and other infrastructural changes.

Privacy Sandbox Timeline | Source: GoogleOpens a new window

The APIs are available for testing for developers in Chrome betaOpens a new window and will be available to millions of users starting August 2022. Chavez said the trial will be expanded to more users through 2022 and 2023. So watch out for a promptOpens a new window on Chrome to accept the trial.

Google estimated that Privacy Sandbox APIs in Chrome will be generally available by Q3 2023 and will begin phasing out third-party cookies in H2 2024.

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