Google wants to say goodbye to cookies. This system, which for years has served to collect user data on behalf of users, has its days numbered: cookies will no longer be supported in Chrome by the end of 2023.
The company has announced the planned dates for the phasing out of cookies as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative, which will take place in two phases starting in late 2022 and mid-2023. The future is the controversial FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), which has already met with opposition from several companies and is being investigated by the European Commission.
Chrome will kill cookies altogether by the end of 2023
Google insists that Privacy Sandbox aims to establish a set of open standards to improve privacy on the web that also provide transparency and greater control over how data is used.
This means saying goodbye to the cookies that have accompanied us for all these years and replacing them with the new paradigm imposed by FLoC, a system that groups users with the same interests and thus theoretically allows particular user data to be hidden without harming them or advertisers, who can continue to target audiences with specific interests.
To achieve this, Google already has a roadmap in which they propose two phases that will make its Chrome browser stop supporting cookies:
- Phase 1: (from the end of 2022): once the tests are completed and the APIs are launched in Chrome, this phase will begin in which publishers and the advertising industry will have “the time necessary to migrate their services”. This phase is expected to last nine months, during which time the adoption of the technology and feedback will be monitored before moving on to Phase 2.
- Phase 2: (from mid-2023): Chrome will begin to phase out third-party cookies over three months until they are eliminated by the end of 2023.
Thus, Google’s goal is to achieve the total elimination of cookies in Chrome by the end of 2023. The deadline is therefore long, but this proposal faces criticism from several companies such as Brave, DuckDuckGo, or Mozilla that doubts that it protects privacy.
Other entities such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) describe FLoC as “a terrible idea“, but if there is a major obstacle it is the one that could be imposed by the European Commission, which is investigating this initiative.
Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s VP for Competition, recently stated that the EC is concerned “that Google has made it difficult for rivals’ online advertising services to compete in the so-called ‘ad tech stack’.” So, we will see how events unfold and whether Google succeeds in imposing this new paradigm for tracking our online activity.