It’s finally time. Google already announced that as part of its ongoing “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, it’ll begin to restrict third-party cookies in Chrome starting in Q1 2024, and now, we have the exact launch date: January 4. At first, only a random one percent of Chrome users globally will see “Tracking Protection” enabled in their browser, meaning third-party cookies will be blocked by default. If you happen to be one of these lucky folks, you’ll see a prompt on the address bar indicating as such, thus limiting cross-site tracking in the name of privacy.
Assuming everything goes smoothly, Google will then gradually ramp up the rollout to 100 percent of Chrome users by the second half of 2024. Of course, hiccups are expected during this transitional period. Should you find yourself repeatedly loading a website to no avail, Chrome will let you temporarily re-enable third-party cookies. Simply click on the eye icon on the right side of the address bar to toggle this aging feature.
According to StatCounter’s November 2023 report, Google’s Chrome took up 62.85 percent of the worldwide browser market share, with Apple’s Safari in second place at 20.04 percent, and Microsoft’s Edge in third place at a mere 5.5 percent. Considering that there are billions of Chrome users today, it is perhaps fair for Google to call the initial one-percent rollout “a key milestone” for its “responsible approach to phasing out third-party cookies.”
That said, Google may still face some final hurdles set by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, as well as similar administrations from other countries, which are looking into minimizing the impact on their local ad businesses.