Google Changes Its Mind, Now Asking Us All to Accept Cookies Until It Gets Rid of Them in 2024

Google Changes Its Mind, Now Asking Us All to Accept Cookies Until It Gets Rid of Them in 2024
Image: Google/Gizmodo Australia

Google announced this week that it will delay its plans to kill off third-party cookies in its Chrome browser until late 2024. The move was last scheduled for the end of 2023, a date already pushed back from sometime this year.

The excuse today was that it wants to expand the testing window for developers, publishers, marketers and regulators before it pushes out the change.

As we said, it’s been a long time coming. Google received pushback from U.S. lawmakers and regulators abroad — along with just about everyone who cares about privacy online. The whole thing created a privacy shitshow.

Cookies, if you’re unfamiliar, at its most basic form is information. When you visit a website, the website sends the cookie to your computer. Your computer stores it within your web browser. This can be helpful, as it helps a website recognise you if you come back – pre-loading info you’ve saved. But it also is a way to gather a tonne of data about you.

While nobody’s a fan of the creepy tech that tracks and targets us across the web, Google’s initial plans to kill them off received a fair bit of flack for a few reasons. First, privacy advocates have pointed out time and time again that the tool that Google planned as a replacement for cookies — called Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC, for short — was riddled with privacy problems that even cookies didn’t have. Meanwhile, the way FLoC was designed seemed almost engineered to give Google an even bigger chunk of the digital ad market, when it already controls more of the market than literally any other tech company on Earth.

Google, however, claims that FLoC is more anonymous than cookies.

In a blog post, Google Privacy Sandbox VP Anthony Chavez said over the past several months, the company has released trial versions of a number of new Privacy Sandbox APIs in Chrome for developers to test.

He said throughout this process, Google has worked to refine its design proposals and that the most common feedback from those involved was that they need more time.

“By Q3 2023, we expect the Privacy Sandbox APIs to be launched and generally available in Chrome,” the blog states. “As developers adopt these APIs, we now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024.”