Google has delayed the death of third-party cookies to the end of 2023, saying “more time is needed across the ecosystem to get this right”.
The tech giant said its Chrome browser would likely “phase out” third-party cookies over a three-month period beginning in mid-2023, once new alternative technologies had been tested and adopted.
Google’s Chromium open-source browser code, which underpins Chrome, is also used by other browsers, including Microsoft Edge.
The company is proposing to reshape the internet with a move to its Privacy Sandbox that will create a privacy-first web, doing away with the cookies that marketers rely on to serve ads to users.
In a blog post Google said: “The Privacy Sandbox initiative aims to create web technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers the tools to build thriving digital businesses to keep the web open and accessible to everyone, now, and for the future.
“To make this happen, we believe the web community needs to come together to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web, giving people more transparency and greater control over how their data is used.
“In order to do this, we need to move at a responsible pace. This will allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services.
“This is important to avoid jeopardizing the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content. And by providing privacy-preserving technology, we as an industry can help ensure that cookies are not replaced with alternative forms of individual tracking, and discourage the rise of covert approaches like fingerprinting.”
Google had been due to kill off third-party cookies next year. Its Privacy Sandbox is still in developer testing and it is exploring alternatives to cookies in sustaining the ad network, which it helps to deliver.
Among the options is Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which would maintain users’ anonymity by clustering them in a group with similar interests while never sharing data that could identify them as individuals.
Google said in its blog post on Thursday: “We believe that the Privacy Sandbox will provide the best privacy protections for everyone.
“By ensuring that the ecosystem can support their businesses without tracking individuals across the web, we can all ensure that free access to content continues.
“And because of the importance of this mission, we must take time to evaluate the new technologies, gather feedback and iterate to ensure they meet our goals for both privacy and performance, and give all developers time to follow the best path for privacy.”