Google plans to restrict the use of third-party cookies in its Chrome internet browser, a move it says is aimed at bolstering users’ privacy while they visit websites.
The Alphabet Inc. GOOG -0.58% unit has been signaling for months that it had interest in adding more controls on the small data files that help website operators, and potentially other entities including advertisers, gain information about visitors. But it has stopped short of actions taken by Apple Inc.’s Safari and Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox to roll out broader restrictions on tracking cookies.
Google said Tuesday that it would phase out support for third-party cookies in its browser within the next two years, according to a blog post by Justin Schuh, director of Chrome engineering.
Third-party cookies, which can be used by ad-tracking or analytics services, are designed to follow users across the internet to learn their browsing habits. Those insights can be valuable to advertisers but have generated consumer privacy concerns for years.
The two-year phaseout, he said, is designed to give users, publishers and advertisers an adjustment period. It will also provide time for the development of new tools like a “privacy sandbox,” which would allow users to be served personalized ads while minimizing advertisers’ access to certain data that makes it easier to identify individuals.
“Users are demanding greater privacy—including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used—and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands,” Mr. Schuh said in his post. “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.”
Google, whose eponymous internet-search platform is the world’s largest, also dominates the world-wide browser market, with Chrome accounting for about 56% of browser usage in December, according to online statistics service W3Counter. The nearest competitor, according to W3Counter data, was Apple’s Safari browser at 18%.
Write to Bowdeya Tweh at [email protected]