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Google to Turn Off Cookies for 30 Million People on January 4

Google Chrome will turn off cookies
Google Chrome has decided that it will turn off third-party cookies. Credit: Google / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Starting January 4th, Google will block cookies for about thirty million Chrome users, which is one percent of the total users. This move is part of their Privacy Sandbox project, which aims to replace cookies with a better system for user privacy.

For the last thirty years, websites and tech companies have used “third-party cookies” and teamed up with other companies, such as Google, to keep an eye on users’ online activities. This is good for businesses but not so good for user privacy because it means lots of companies have a record of users’ online activities, according to Gizmodo.

A new set of tools to replace ‘cookies’

Instead of using cookies, Google has brought in some new tools for the Chrome browser. Now, Chrome itself keeps track of what you’re up to online. The important thing is this information stays on your device.

Your browser then puts you into different groups called “Ad Topics” by Google. Websites can check with Chrome to find out which groups you belong to, but they won’t be able to find out exactly who you are, as reported by Gizmodo.

However, Chrome is still keeping an eye on you, and it’s doing it differently than browsers like Firefox and Safari. Even so, Google’s updated Chrome is a positive move for privacy. It shares less about you and what you’ve been doing online.

“We are making one of the largest changes to how the Internet works at a time when people, more than ever, are relying on the free services and content that the web offers,” stated Victor Wong, Google’s senior director of product management for Privacy Sandbox, in an interview with Gizmodo in April 2023.

“The mission of the Privacy Sandbox team writ large is to keep people’s activity private across a free and open Internet, and that supports the broader company mission, which is to make sure that information is still accessible for everyone and useful,” Wong further stated.

1 percent of Chrome users can test the new ‘Tracking Protection’ feature

The new Privacy Sandbox cookie alternatives are already up and running on the Chrome browser, but currently, it’s an optional feature. Users can also turn off this feature by going to the Chrome browser settings.

These changes are significant because most internet users use Chrome. On January 4th, if you get a popup on Chrome, it means you’re part of the one percent of users testing the default “Tracking Protection,” which is Google’s term for the cookie-blocking tool.

With tracking protection on, you’ll notice a small eyeball logo in the URL bar, according to Gizmodo.

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