In a significant development aimed at enhancing user privacy, Google has unveiled its plan to disable third-party cookies for a specific segment of Chrome users and migrate them to the Privacy Sandbox starting in early 2024. This move signals Google’s commitment to re-evaluating online tracking practices and addressing privacy concerns in the digital realm.

By disabling third-party cookies, Google aims to bolster user privacy and offer more control over online tracking. Third-party cookies have long been a contentious issue, enabling advertisers to track users’ browsing habits across different websites. The migration to Privacy Sandbox seeks to strike a balance between protecting user privacy and enabling targeted advertising, as the new platform utilizes anonymized and aggregated data for ad personalization.

In a blog post, the company stated its intention to migrate 1% of Chrome users to its Privacy Sandbox – thus putting user privacy at the forefront – and disable third-party cookies for them. The company also aims to make third-party cookies a thing of the past by the time the second half of 2024 arrives. The company added that it will work closely with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) before working further to expand the deprecation of the cookies.

“Chrome will deprecate third-party cookies for up to 1% of browsers. There is no opt-in for this mode, as it will be applied globally. There is, of course, the possibility that some site features may be impacted if the site hasn’t yet adopted an alternative solution, such as CHIPS or First-Party Sets,” Google noted in its blog post on Thursday.

Google’s decision to disable third-party cookies will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the digital advertising industry. Advertisers heavily rely on these cookies to deliver targeted ads and measure campaign effectiveness. The transition to Privacy Sandbox will require advertisers to adapt their strategies and embrace alternative methods of audience targeting and measurement. This shift may level the playing field, encouraging the adoption of more privacy-centric practices across the industry.

Its plan to disable third-party cookies also aligns with the growing global emphasis on user privacy and data protection. Regulators and consumers are increasingly demanding more transparent and privacy-focused digital experiences. Google’s proactive approach sets a precedent for other industry players to reassess their data collection and tracking practices. It also signifies a shift toward a more privacy-conscious ecosystem, where innovative solutions that prioritize user control and data security gain prominence.

Furthermore, Google announced that it is making its Privacy Sandbox APIs available to all Chrome users, thus enabling developers to test them with live traffic. The relevance and measurement APIs – Topics, Protected Audience, Attribution Reporting, Private Aggregation, Shared Storage, and Fenced Frames – will be made available from late July, with the launch of the Chrome 115. While they will not be turned on for all users, they can activate them without joining a trial or turning on browser flags before they are enabled for more users.

Each API, Google noted, will go through the standard Chrome launch process, while users will have Ad privacy controls to manage them. Google is already testing an updated Ad privacy interface with a handful of Chrome Stable users. Google will also provide them with the tools required to simulate the non-existence of third-party cookies for some of their users.