Chrome Browser Phasing Out Third-Party Cookies But Privacy Risk Remains

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Updated on May 22, 2024

What changes did Google announce?

Google Chrome, the world’s most popular browser (with 65% market share and 3.45 billion users) has announced that it will soon be blocking third-party cookies to protect user data from cross-site tracking. It’s already switched off cookies for 1% of its users and says it will gradually do the same for all of them by the end of 2024 or early 2025. It’s replacing third-party cookies with a homegrown feature called Tracking Protection, which is part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative. This aims to protect user privacy by limiting third-party cross-site tracking while still giving marketers access to the user data they need to deliver personalized targeted advertising.

Despite these upcoming changes to Chrome, website owners will still face privacy risks even after the changes have been rolled out. In this article, we explore what they are.

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are small pieces of data placed on a user’s device (typically in the browser’s storage) by a website other than the one the user is currently visiting. For example, if your website hosts ads on behalf of an ad network such as Google Adsense, then when a visitor opens your site in their browser, it’s Adsense that will place its cookie on the user’s browser’s storage, use it to track their browsing behavior around the web, build up a profile of them and serve them relevant ads whenever they visit another site hosting Adsense ads.

What are first-party cookies?

First-party cookies are generated by the website that the visitor is currently visiting. So, when they visit your website, your first-party cookies keep track of things like their login status, shopping cart contents, and user preferences, as well as analytics.

What do the changes mean for advertisers?

Without third-party cookies to report on visitors’ movements, third-party advertisers won’t be able to follow website visitors as closely as before, so they won’t be able to identify website visitors’ browsing behaviors and serve them the highly personalized ads that they once could.

What do the changes mean for website owners?

Although third-party cookies will be limited in the Chrome browser, the privacy risk for website owners remains. Other third-party tracking technologies like the Meta and TikTok pixels, when implemented by website owners, can still track users on their websites without explicit consent. The risks of improper configuration and human errors with these pixels remain and can lead to unauthorized data collection, resulting in privacy violations and hefty fines. Website owners should be vigilant about these risks and ensure that pixels are implemented and data is handled according to best practices and relevant regulations to avoid potential financial penalties and reputational damage.

How Reflectiz Can Help

Reflectiz offers a powerful security solution that helps reduce the risks of using online tracking technologies. With real-time monitoring and analysis of all website components, this user-friendly platform gives website owners clear oversight of what’s being collected, where it’s being sent, and how it’s been used. Reflectiz features advanced monitoring technology that detects and identifies the potential security vulnerabilities and privacy threats posed by online tracking technologies, including unauthorized tracking and data leakage. Reflectiz also gives you the actionable recommendations and controls you need to comply with data privacy legislation, and that help you to avoid expensive and reputationally damaging breaches.

Conclusion

Regardless of the phasing out of third-party cookies in the Chrome browser, online tracking technologies will continue to pose privacy risks to website owners, despite new features in the Chrome browser like Enhanced Tracking Protection and Privacy Sandbox. Although efforts such as these are welcome, they currently aren’t enough to mitigate the full scope of privacy concerns associated with other tracking technologies. This is why it still falls to web threat management solutions like Reflectiz to provide the comprehensive visibility, privacy protection tools, and ultimately the peace of mind that website owners need.

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