Google on Thursday announced that it will start testing a new feature called "Tracking Protection" beginning January 4, 2024, to 1% of Chrome users as part of its efforts to deprecate third-party cookies in the web browser.
The setting is designed to limit "cross-site tracking by restricting website access to third-party cookies by default," Anthony Chavez, vice president of Privacy Sandbox at Google, said.
The tech giant noted that participants for Tracking Protection will be selected at random and that chosen users will be notified upon opening Chrome on either a desktop or an Android device.
The goal is to restrict third-party cookies (also called "non-essential cookies") by default, preventing them from being used to track users as they move from one website to the other for serving personalized ads.
While several major browsers like Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox have either already placed restrictions on third-party cookies via features like Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Enhanced Tracking Protection in Firefox, Google is taking more of a middle-ground approach that involves devising alternatives where users can access free online content and services without compromising on their privacy.
In mid-October 2023, Google confirmed its plans to "disable third-party cookies for 1% of users from Q1 2024 to facilitate testing, and then ramp up to 100% of users from Q3 2024."
Privacy Sandbox, instead of providing a cross-site or cross-app user identifier, "aggregates, limits, or noises data" through APIs like Protected Audience (formerly FLEDGE), Topics, and Attribution Reporting to help prevent user re-identification.
In doing so, the goal is to block third-parties from tracking user browsing behavior across sites, while still allowing sites and apps to serve relevant ads and enabling advertisers to measure the performance of their online ads without using individual identifiers.
"With Tracking Protection, Privacy Sandbox and all of the features we launch in Chrome, we'll continue to work to create a web that's more private than ever, and universally accessible to everyone," Chavez said.