Google delays phasing out third-party tracking cookies in Chrome by six months

Google is delaying the phasing out of third-party tracking cookies in Chrome by six months. The APIs that do that will not become the norm in Chrome until the second half of 2024 at the earliest. Google and advertisers need more time to flesh out the initiative.

Google has updated the Privacy Sandbox timeline. Privacy Sandbox is a collection of various APIs that together provide an alternative to third-party tracking cookies. The most infamous example was FLoC or Federated Learning of Cohorts. Google suggested that in 2019. FLoC is an API that categorizes Chrome users into cohorts based on their browsing habits. They are thereby locally anonymized and classified, so that no identifiable data is sent to third-party advertisers, who may nevertheless show targeted advertisements. The plan has been criticized from the start, even though Google claims that the initiative is more privacy-friendly than tracking cookies.

Initially, the intention was to make FLoC the standard in Chrome from the third quarter of 2023. Later, FLoC was modified and replaced by the Topics API because of all the criticism. The planning to implement that at the end of 2023 was not adjusted at that time.

Now Google writes that the company and advertisers need more time to experiment with Topics, as well as with the other Privacy Sandbox APIs. Google “extends test time before disabling third-party cookies in Chrome.” Developers can already test the various APIs, including Topics, in the web browser. The first beta testing among Chrome users will also be conducted later this year. The plan remains to enable the APIs in Chrome in the third quarter of next year, but to continue to offer third-party cookies until at least half of 2024.

Google says it also wants to meet the requirements of the British Competition and Markets Authority with that modified timeline. He demanded that Google adjust the initiative to make it more privacy-friendly for end users.