Google Chrome starts blocking data tracking cookies

Google has begun testing changes to the way companies are able to track users online.

A new feature in the Chrome browser disables third-party cookies – small files stored on your device to collect analytic data, personalise online ads and monitor browsing.

It will initially be available to 1% of global users, about 30 million people.

Google describes the changes as a test, with plans for a full rollout to eliminate cookies later this year.

However, some advertisers say they will suffer as a result.

Google’s Chrome is the world’s most popular internet browser.

Rivals such as Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox – which account for far less internet traffic – already include options to block third-party cookies.

Google says randomly-chosen users will be asked if they want to “browse with more privacy”.

Anthony Chavez, Google vice president, said in a blog post: “We’re taking a responsible approach to phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome.

“If a site doesn’t work without third-party cookies and Chrome notices you’re having issues… we’ll prompt you with an option to temporarily re-enable third-party cookies for that website.”

Google says it is working to make the internet more private.

But from the point of view of many websites, cookies are a vital part of selling the advertising on which they depend.

For some that advertising can feel intrusive. Many people will have the experience of visiting a website, or making a purchase and then having related ads appear on all the sites they visit.

Cookies can be used to record various kinds of data about users including:

  • what you do on the site
  • whereabouts in the world you are
  • what device you are using
  • where you go online afterwards

“Google’s solution, the Chrome Privacy Sandbox, which only works on a Chrome browser, likely doesn’t benefit anyone other than Google,” said Phil Duffield, UK vice president at The Trade Desk, which operates a platform for companies to buy ads online.

“Protecting consumer privacy online, doesn’t have to mean making it harder for publishers to earn revenue”.

He added “the advertising industry is on a collective mission to build something better”.

The UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, can block the plans if it concludes they will harm other businesses.

Related Articles

Back to top button