What Does Google’s Third-Party Cookie Ban Mean to Your Privacy? | Hacker Noon

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@nabeelaliseo321Nabeel Ali

Nabeel Ali is a Business Consultant working with Tellakos. Apart from managing and improving business processes.

Google is making the final push to completely ban third-party cookies on the most popular internet browser, Google Chrome, by 2022. The news has split the general public, as the ban will hurt countless digital marketing companies.

On the other hand, users who want more online privacy are eager to welcome the ban with arms wide open. The ban will stop ad tracking and overall online activity tracking. But what does that mean for your online privacy? Stay with us, and we’ll explain everything you need to know about the ban of third-party cookies. Additionally, we shall explain why Google’s attempt is nothing new, and it has been introduced by many other providers beforehand. 

What are third-party cookies?

In short, third-party cookies are designed to help big tech and other companies track the online activities of individual users. The gathered data is then used to improve ad targeting and digital marketing techniques. With that said, there are many other tracking technologies that will stay active in the future.

The recent online privacy concerns have made Google change the way it uses third-party cookies to track users. Many other popular browsers have been blocking third-party cookies for years, and Google is catching on to the practice only now. To give Google some credit, users can tweak their settings and block third-party cookies manually. However, many leave default settings unchanged, and the automatic blocking gives privacy even to those that do not embark on a journey through Chrome’s settings.

For instance, Mozilla Firefox has offered Enhanced Tracking Protection since 2019. It means that the browser blocks third-party cookies automatically and offers other measures to protect users. More on that later. 

How common are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are used regularly by websites and companies. Websites often sell or share third-party cookies with other companies, who use them to improve their advertising models. By blocking third-party cookies, websites have fewer means to track you, but that in no way means that they are out of options. 

What data do third-party cookies retain?

The reality is that third-party cookies can collect a lot of user data that can then be used for many different purposes. That includes details such as browsing history, gender, political views, age, and online behavior. They can even tell how fast you scroll through websites. 

The practice can tell companies a lot about each user, and they can use it to create very effective targeting to promote products and services to the right individuals. 

Are third-party cookies all that terrible?

That depends on who you ask. International corporations and large companies need third-party cookies to improve their operations even further. Effective ad targeting is not necessarily bad, as, without third-party cookies, most users will see ads that are not relevant to them. However, ads that do not reflect their browsing habits or preferences might be something netizens crave. 

The practice extends to all devices, and when a data-collecting company puts all bits and pieces together, they can create a profile of every user. Not everything about third-party cookies is terrible, but it all comes down to users’ attitudes about who can monetize their data. 

Building a more private digital world

The Facebook data leak of 2019 has drastically increased the need for online privacy. People finally got more details about how their private data is used, and the general population wanted more control over their data. 

There’s no doubt that this change will create an entirely new network system design to protect users and their data. Since third-party cookies are the backbone of every digital marketing campaign, advertising rules will change forever. However, Google will still collect first-party data through its many services. First-party cookies, while necessary, also have something up their sleeve. 

Not a very effective change?

If you’re concerned about your online privacy, you should know that this ban won’t make a big difference. Google’s entire ecosystem depends on third-party cookies, so without them, the company is risking a considerable drop in revenue. Whether or not they are willing to make a change is yet to be seen. However, one thing is for sure; you should stick to your existing online privacy tools if you want to stay anonymous every time you go online. 

Since third-party cookies will become unavailable, companies will be forced to explore other options to obtain insights about digital users. In many ways, alternatives have already been introduced. Fingerprinting and supercookies are one of the options used to identify individual users.

They go beyond regular cookies, relying on different technology to gather information about netizens. For instance, supercookies withstand regular clearing of cookies. Some browsers like Firefox have also introduced features for blocking both fingerprinting and supercookies.

Stay safe until we see a real change

You can use a few different methods to protect yourself from prying eyes when you go online. The most widespread protection methods are using proxies, special browsers such as Tor, and Virtual Private Networks.

The need for VPNs has practically exploded in the past few years. Today, you can simply install an online VPN on your device and limit various types of online tracking. For instance, digital entities will no longer retrieve accurate information on your location.

Thus, you can obviate many unfortunate features of the internet, such as questionable price discrimination. In essence, a VPN will make you more anonymous online and is a valuable addition to your browsing. Also, since VPNs encrypt web traffic, snoopers are less likely to retrieve insights about your preferences. 

The bottom line

Blocking third-party cookies is only a small part of your journey to becoming immune to prevalent online tracking techniques. It is a complex goal and one that you can achieve only by following certain guidelines. Additionally, once third-party cookies will presumably become a thing of the past, companies will turn to other techniques.

For instance, companies could exchange their first-party cookies with other entities. Thus, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to limit techniques that many deem intrusive. 

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Nabeel Ali is a Business Consultant working with Tellakos. Apart from managing and improving business processes.


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