By Joseph Chalfant
Google announced that it will delay plans to remove cookies from its browser until the end of 2023.
The company originally planned to eliminate third-party tracking by early 2022. Google said more time is needed for the web industry to prepare for the switch, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Google claimed that it is working with UK regulatory agency, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), to smoothly roll out the switch. The company will be required to provide 60 days’ notice before making any change to the Chrome web browser.
Many in the industry advocate for user-tracking reform regarding data privacy. Competing advertising companies complained that Google has unfairly used privacy concerns as a reason to block out competition. According to the Wall Street Journal, pro-internet privacy groups are concerned that the company is not doing enough to protect valuable user data.
One of the proposed alternatives to cookies may appease all parties. Google is developing a new technology called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). FLoC protects user privacy by lumping users with similar browsing trends into demographics rather than utilizing unique data for individuals, according to The Verge.
If appropriately implemented, Google can make data more readily available for interested parties while protecting the privacy of individual users. The company claims that FloC is 95% as effective as cookies-based advertising.
Third-party browsers have not signed on to FLoC yet. Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Opera have all refused to adopt it in its current state, according to The Verge.
Browser makers are worried about serious privacy leaks if the technology is not implemented correctly. In the interest of protecting users, companies are looking to adopt different privacy measures for the time being. Some companies, like Microsoft and Apple, are working on developing technologies of their own as the industry moves away from cookies.
Some Chromium-based browsers are refusing to adopt Google’s new proprietary technology.
“We will not support the FLoC API and plan to disable it, no matter how it is implemented. It does not protect privacy and it certainly is not beneficial to users, to unwittingly give away their privacy for the financial gain of Google,” a Vivaldi spokesman told The Verge.
Brave, an open-source Chromium-based browser, expressed similar sentiments regarding FLoC privacy concerns. Brave claimed that Google would be detrimental to user privacy “under the guise of being privacy-friendly.”