Google says it will “phase out” one of the main tools that allows companies to track you across the web.
But, as we’ve previously noted, Google’s attempts to limit cookies could also give the company a major leg up on advertising competitors, as it would reduce third-parties’ ability to keep tabs on users.
That may be great for advertisers, but it also makes the internet feel creepy, which is why other browser makers, including Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, have also made moves to block the kind of cookies that track you across websites, like those used by Facebook.
Google, on the other hand, is taking a more cautious approach. The company says it wants to ensure privacy for users, but not at the cost of decimating the ad industry on which it relies. Director of Chrome engineering Justin Schuh said Google believes that its competitors’ actions will ultimately harm companies that rely on online advertising to stay in business.
“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,” Schuh wrote. “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.”
But considering that Google Chrome is the most dominant browser, Google’s eventual actions will likely be much more influential than its competitors — for better or worse. The bad news is that this shift toward a (slightly) more private internet could still take a long time.
While Schuh says the “intention” is to make this shift to a cookie-less internet in the next two years, the effort could end up taking longer as the company plans to wait for others in the industry, like advertisers and publishers, to agree on future standards before it makes any sweeping changes.
Until then, at least we have Safari and Firefox for anti-Facebook tracking.