A major thorn in the side of internet denizens is now being targeted by none other than Google. The thorn in this instance are cookies.

While cookies can be incredibly useful – allowing you to remain logged into Facebook when you close a tab by accident for example – they can also be rather invasive.

Firms around the world use cookies to track which websites you visit in hopes of serving up advertising that will be relevant to you. However, as Reuters so rightly points out, privacy is now a major concern for many people and cookies aren’t exactly bastions for privacy.

Google has a plan to eliminate third party cookies within the next two years but it can’t do this alone.

These efforts started last year with the launch of Privacy Sandbox. The initiative seeks to develop a set of open standards with a view to enhancing privacy on the web.

Part of this initiative is making third-party cookies obsolete.

“Users are demanding greater privacy–including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used–and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands,” said director at Chrome Engineering, Justin Schuh.

“Some browsers have reacted to these concerns by blocking third-party cookies, but we believe this has unintended consequences that can negatively impact both users and the web ecosystem. By undermining the business model of many ad-supported websites, blunt approaches to cookies encourage the use of opaque techniques such as fingerprinting (an invasive workaround to replace cookies), which can actually reduce user privacy and control,” the director continues.

Google appears to favour a slower approach to change and unfortunately it is sort of necessary. Consider going online tomorrow and all cookies are blocked but every website you visit collects data about your device, the plugins you use, screen resolution, timezone, operating system and much more.

So rather than turning cookies into an outlaw, Google will start making them a tad more secure.

In February Chrome will begin limiting insecure cross-site tracking. The hope is that but forcing cookies to include SameSite labelling as well as requiring third-party cookies to be access over HTTPS, cookies will become a bit more secure while giving users greater control over cookies.

“At the same time, we’re developing techniques to detect and mitigate covert tracking and workarounds by launching new anti-fingerprinting measures to discourage these kinds of deceptive and intrusive techniques, and we hope to launch these measures later this year,” adds Schuh.

The implications of essentially outlawing third-party cookies are an unknown at present. However, we could see advertising rates from publishers take a dive and that’s bad news in an industry which is still trying to find the best way to monetise content.

As we mentioned this is a process and Google is taking feedback via a GitHub page. The Web Advertising Business Group is also fielding questions and concerns through its website.

[Source – Chromium Blog] [Image – CC 0 Pixabay]