Cookies are small pieces of code that web sites deliver to a visitor's browser, and stick around as the person visits other sites. Third-party cookies are often added by advertisers and ad networks, in addition to the site the user is actually visiting, and can be used to track users across multiple sites, and to target ads and see how they perform.
Justin Schuh, director of Chrome engineering, in a blog post Tuesday said Google will phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome once it has figured out how to address the "needs of users, publishers, and advertisers" and it has developed tools to "mitigate workarounds."The changes, amid regulatory conversations and other moves in the digital world toward more privacy features, will affect how some advertising players reach consumers online. But they could also stoke further antitrust scrutiny. A Deutsche Bank analyst said in a note last year that Google could "inflame already high antitrust concerns if it does something in Chrome" because it would squeeze out Google's digital ad competitors. Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world, with about 69% of global market share as of September 2019, according to Statista.Google's announcement comes one day before Microsoft is set to start rolling out Edge, a new web browser using Google's Chrome web browsing engine, which will have "tracking prevention" enabled by default.
Google’s product managers told me in an interview that Chrome prioritizes privacy choices and controls, and they’re working on new ones for cookies. The Washington Post website has about 40 tracker cookies, average for a news site, which the company said in a statement are used to deliver better-targeted ads and track ad performance.
How to live without Google
"Some ideas include new approaches to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but user data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only," he wrote. "Our goal is to create a set of standards that is more consistent with users' expectations of privacy."Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Vox Media.