Google Chrome Tracking Protection Feature: Impact on Internet Cookies and Personalized Ads

Google recently started testing a new feature in its Chrome browser called ‘Tracking Protection.’ This feature disables internet cookies for about 30 million users. This impacts how companies personalize ads and track browsing behavior. Google plans to phase out cookies starting January 4, 2024, and eliminate them completely by the end of the year.

This change will greatly affect advertisers because Google Chrome is the most widely used browser. Cookies are important for online companies to customize ads, which is a key part of their business. While personalized ads may bother some users, they are an important source of income for many online platforms.

Unlike other browsers like Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox, which already let users block third-party cookies, they have fewer users compared to Google Chrome.

Google is randomly offering some users the option to “browse with more privacy.” The company knows that completely stopping advertising is not possible. The Tracking Protection feature will be complemented by Ad Topics, which uses a user’s browsing history to show relevant ads. As third-party cookies are phased out, Ad Topics will use a user’s search history to categorize their interests locally without using cookies. This shift reflects a broader industry trend towards better user privacy and more responsible handling of data. How to enable Google Safe Search: Ensuring a Safer Online Experience

Google Chrome Tracking Protection Feature

As of January 4, approximately 30 million Google Chrome users will experience blocked cookies. While this represents a small percentage for the browser with the highest global usage, it is expected to extend to all users by the end of 2024.

This development signifies that websites will no longer be able to track user activity. However, it is important to note that even in incognito mode, Google can continue monitoring users through its Privacy Sandbox initiative.

The plan for this change has been publicized over several years, with an announcement in 2021 outlining the planned dates for the gradual elimination of third-party cookies in Chrome and the introduction of the FLoC system (acronym for ‘Federated Learning Cohorts’). This was initially set for 2023.

Exploring the Impact

Google has begun testing the Tracking Protection feature, which limits cross-site tracking by defaulting website access to third-party cookies. The company describes this as a pivotal milestone in its Privacy Sandbox initiative towards phasing out third-party cookies for all users in the latter half of 2024.

Third-party cookies have been integral to the web for nearly three decades, enabling tracking of website activities to display relevant advertisements based on users’ personal preferences. This longevity is attributable to their significance in the internet advertising business.

With Privacy Sandbox, Google emphasizes a responsible approach to eliminating third-party cookies in Chrome. The ongoing testing with a small percentage of Chrome users aims to assess website readiness for operating without third-party cookies.

Users need not be concerned, as the function of cookies to keep users logged into websites, such as Genbeta, will persist since this data is not shared with third parties and is stored locally on their computers.

Identifying Participation in the Tests

Randomly selected users worldwide will receive notifications upon being chosen to partake in the test. If selected, users will receive a notification upon opening Chrome on their desktop or Android devices. The notification resembles the image shown:

For those selected for Tracking Protection, browsing will restrict third-party cookies by default, consequently limiting tracking across different websites.

In instances where a website experiences issues without third-party cookies, Chrome will prompt users with the option to temporarily re-enable them for that site if repeated page refreshing occurs. Understanding Browser Cookies: How They Work and Why They Matter

Privacy Implications

Google’s announcement of the impending cessation of third-party cookies in Chrome signifies a watershed moment in their usage. This was the first significant step as part of the ‘Privacy Sandbox’ initiative, in which they seek to establish open standards to enhance web privacy.

In 2021, Genbeta interviewed Chetna Bindra, who served as product director for user trust, privacy, and transparency at Google, discussing an API already in progress as part of the Privacy Sandbox experiments: Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). The FLoC plan was subsequently replaced with Topics, representing Google’s revised proposal for eradicating cookies. According to Google, Topics enables the browser to locally define a range of themes based on browsing history, such as “fitness” or “travel,” signifying the user’s prominent interests for the week.

Google asserts that these measures will limit the capabilities of advertising and tracking companies to track and profile users, akin to Apple’s objectives with App Tracking Transparency since iOS 14. While Google defends that the labeling system offers a more private alternative to FLoC, it assures that it does not harm the advertising business.

Does Chrome have tracking protection?

Yes, Google has recently commenced testing the ‘Tracking Protection’ feature in its Chrome browser. This feature limits cross-site tracking by defaulting website access to third-party cookies, ultimately preventing websites from tracking user activity. Although this represents a significant change that will extend to all users by the end of 2024, it’s important to note that even in incognito mode, Google can continue monitoring users through its Privacy Sandbox initiative.

In essence, the ‘Tracking Protection’ feature is a pivotal milestone in Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative towards phasing out third-party cookies for all users. If you value your privacy, keep an eye out for notifications from Google to participate in the tests, as the company has begun randomly selecting users worldwide to partake in the test. These users will receive notifications upon being chosen to participate.

How do I stop Chrome from tracking me?

Private Mode Browser

To enhance your privacy and limit tracking while using Google Chrome, you can take several actions:

  1. Use Incognito Mode: When browsing in Incognito mode, Chrome does not save your browsing history, cookies, site data, or information entered in forms. However, remember that your activity may still be visible to websites you visit, your employer or school, and your internet service provider.
  2. Opt out of Ad Personalization: You can visit the “Ad Settings” section within your Google Account to opt out of ad personalization. This may reduce the amount of targeted ads you see across Google services.
  3. Utilize Tracking Protection: Keep an eye out for notifications from Google to participate in the ‘Tracking Protection’ tests. This feature, when rolled out, limits cross-site tracking by defaulting website access to third-party cookies, ultimately preventing websites from tracking user activity.
  4. Regularly Clear Cookies and Site Data: Chrome allows you to clear your browsing data, including cookies and site data, which can help mitigate tracking.

By employing these strategies, you can actively work towards reducing tracking in Google Chrome.

What protection does Google Chrome have?

Google Chrome has recently commenced testing the ‘Tracking Protection’ feature, which is a pivotal milestone in its Privacy Sandbox initiative towards phasing out third-party cookies for all users. This feature limits cross-site tracking by defaulting website access to third-party cookies, ultimately preventing websites from tracking user activity.

Although this represents a significant change that will extend to all users by the end of 2024, it’s important to note that even in incognito mode, Google can continue monitoring users through its Privacy Sandbox initiative. Additionally, Chrome allows users to enhance their privacy and limit tracking by incorporating features such as incognito mode, opting out of ad personalization, tracking protection, and regularly clearing cookies and site data. If selected, users will receive notifications upon opening Chrome on their desktop or Android devices, providing more control over their online privacy.

What does tracker for Chrome do?

Google Chrome’s Tracking Protection feature is an important step in the Privacy Sandbox initiative to gradually stop the use of third-party cookies for all users. This feature automatically restricts websites from using third-party cookies, which helps stop them from tracking user activity across different sites.

The initiative shows a growing trend in the industry towards giving users more privacy and handling data more responsibly. Also, some users will be chosen to take part in a test and will receive notifications. This gives them a chance to have more control over their online privacy.