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Google to Test Limiting Cross-Site Tracking on Chrome Browser

Google Chrome

Google’s Chrome browser will begin testing a new feature that limits cross-site tracking by restricting website access to third-party cookies by default. 

The new Tracking Protection feature will be rolled out to 1% of Chrome users globally on Jan. 4, the company said in a Thursday (Dec. 14) blog post

This move is the next step in Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative that aims to phase out third-party cookies for everyone in the second half of 2024, subject to competition concerns from the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority, according to the post. 

“When it comes to improving privacy on the web, the work is never finished,” Anthony Chavez, vice president, Privacy Sandbox, said in the post. “That’s why in Chrome, we continue to invest in features that protect your data and provide more control over how it’s used. This includes taking steps to limit the ability to track your activity across different websites.” 

Participants in the Tracking Protection test will be chosen randomly and will be notified when they open Chrome, according to the post. 

The feature is being rolled out on a smaller scale to allow developers to test their preparedness for “a web without third-party cookies,” Chavez said in the post. He noted that in addition to being used to track website activities, sites use third-party cookies to help visitors log in or to show relevant ads. 

For the Chrome users participating in the test, third-party cookies will be restricted by default as they browse the web, per the post. If the browser notices that the user is having issues with a site that doesn’t work without third-party cookies, it will prompt them to temporarily re-enable such cookies from that site. 

“As we work to make the web more private, we’ll provide businesses with tools to succeed online so that high-quality content remains freely accessible — whether that’s news articles, videos, educational information, community sites or other forms of web content,” Chavez said in the post. 

Google postponed the deprecation of third-party cookies in August 2022 until the second half of 2024 because it was working with digital advertisers and technology vendors to agree on a replacement for anonymized audience tracking.