Google Chrome plans to end support for third-party cookies by 2022
Issues related to online privacy and security have been hotly debated over the last couple of decades with many claiming that their privacy has been exposed on multiple occasions.
Browser cookies in particular have been named as one of the culprits for such privacy intrusions due to the fact that they collect session information such as user location, credentials and performed actions.
Because of this, an ever increasing number of online users have been becoming more and more concerned about their personal information, which has consequently led to big companies such as Google taking action.
Chrome to end third-party cookies support by 2022 and implement Privacy Sandbox for better privacy
Back in 2020, the technological giant Google announced its intentions to completely eliminate the use of third-party cookies in Chrome - one of the most popular Web browsers. The main goal being to improve overall security and privacy while ensuring confidentiality of user data.
Information security and data privacy is something that we at VPSBG have been actively advocating ever since our company’s inception. We don’t utilize any third-party cookies anywhere on our website and we allow your customers to pay for their VPS servers anonymously using Bitcoin.
However, what do Google’s plans mean about other websites that make use of such external cookies? How will this affect Chrome and more importantly how is it going to impact the world of digital marketing?
People are starting to value their online privacy
It is a well-known fact that most websites that employ third-party browser cookies do so in order to collect and share information about user visits and their performed actions. However, in certain situations, companies collecting this data were found to also be selling it, which severely damages the privacy of the individuals whose information has been collected.
This has led to people being constantly concerned and worried about their sensitive information while surfing the Web with most looking for different ways to protect their privacy. The majority of Web users are aware that such an issue exists, which is why they tend to block third-party cookies or use privacy-oriented browsers such as Brave that automatically disables any of these information-collecting units.
This constant alternative searching by individuals and companies has allowed some niche companies to appear on the market, all of which focus on providing a secure and reliable online user experience without people having to worry about their privacy or data being collected and sold. Additionally, it has also enabled new technologies to be developed which can still offer sufficient marketing analysis and relevant ad targeting without having to utilize cookie data.
There are many companies worldwide that use self-hosted tools and storage to obtain such customer information without having to utilize any third-party cookies or outside information. This allows them to store everything locally, mitigating the risk of their customers’ data falling into the wrong hands.
Seeing as how this is slowly becoming a more popular option for businesses and online companies, larger technological companies and giants have begun to make a move in order to address these issues and provide their existing customers with a viable alternative in an attempt to convince them to stay and not make the switch to another browser or data gathering tool or application.
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Google's solution for anonymity & security - the Privacy Sandbox
The technology giant Google announced that the company will be putting an end to the use of third-party cookies by the end of 2022. Their solution to this problem will be to develop, introduce and implement a new technology called the Privacy Sandbox.
At the moment there are various suggestions on how to make the project work successfully. All web developers, content creators, advertisers and marketing companies are invited to suggest improvements and discuss the possibilities and potential of the technology, making this a sort of a community-driven project. Participants can provide suggestions, ideas and feedback on how to protect online users’ privacy, identity and anonymity.
The cloud giant’s intention is to develop a platform in the face of the Privacy Sandbox, which will provide confidentiality to online users while also not depriving businesses and marketing specialists of valuable information regarding consumers’ interests.
Viable Google Privacy Sandbox project suggestions
Over the period in which the project was announced up to now, there have been multiple suggestions that can potentially be implemented in the future to achieve this balance between obtaining data and providing users with an option to remain anonymous online.
Submitting information with an API
One of the most popular ideas that came up in the discussions for the project was to run the data through an API. This will allow advertisers to still be able to access aggregated data in order to get an understanding of how their ads are performing as well as to get general geographic data and status without collecting the data from each user individually by using third-party cookies, ultimately satisfying both sides.
Google Privacy Sandbox is suggested to rely on anonymous signals instead of cookies, which will be sent from the Chrome browser, allowing advertisers to get a general idea of how their ads are being displayed and whether they are successfully converting or not. Consumer habits, on the other hand, will be generalized in order to be presented as an interest group that can be used to make analysis.
One of the most interesting things about this idea is that Google offered to move all user activity information from their servers to each user’s browser resulting in these signals being stored locally. Additionally, this also addresses some of the issues and concerns related to the transfer of data, making the entire process safer as storing information locally complies with all privacy requirements and regulations.
Collecting information through Fingerprinting
Apart from the cookies, there are other alternative ways that allow companies to collect user information and subsequently create user profiles. One example of such a technology is Fingerprinting, which is still utilized by some site owners.
Browser fingerprinting allows companies to create unique user profiles based on user activity within the browser. However, fingerprinting does not require users to give their consent and without the use of third-party cookies.
Fingerprinting takes advantage of the browser’s unique settings such as IP address, cursor font, and installed plugins. All of this information is collected and extracted to generate a user profile that can be used to create personalized and targeted ads without the need of using cookies.
Implementing this as a refined principle in the Privacy Sandbox will allow advertisers to still be able to reach their target audience by examining their genuine interest in the products or services that they offer without using any third-party cookies.
However, browsers that are more focused on privacy such as Brave use various methods to randomly change user data which can confuse the fingerprinting algorithm, resulting in distorted results. Additionally, using a VPN with a constantly changing IP address can also reduce the tracking capabilities of the technology.
This is why it is important to revamp the fingerprinting algorithm prior to implementing it in such a way that both users and advertisers will be able to benefit from it.
Self-hosted Web analytics tools - the future of information gathering
This strive for user information will undoubtedly create a number of other subsequent issues, which will all derive from the fact that customer information will not be as easy to obtain.
Information gathering and correct analysis will become quite expensive, due to the previously discussed problems. Third-parties won’t have access to this information and website owners and digital marketing specialists also won’t be able to take advantage of the information collected by other websites either, meaning that the entire cycle will break.
This will, however, allow many new businesses and companies to create services which will specialize in the area of privacy and data analysis. New and improved platforms and software will be created, all of which will be targeted at protecting user data while also giving advertisers the information that they will need.
One of the most popular alternative, self-hosted analytics tools is Matomo, which was formerly known as Piwik. It is used by millions of websites worldwide due to its efficiency and focus on user privacy. Matomo also has a WordPress plugin, making it compatible with WP websites as well.
It is a self-hosted tool, meaning that it resides on your own server and the information that it collects is only available to your website or application - it is never shared with any outside third-parties. Matomo along with Open Web Analytics and AWStats are all examples of such analysis tools. However, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to self-hosted Web analytics tools.
Other advantages of such tools include the fact that users remain anonymous and their identity is better protected with visitors’ privacy being securely stored behind multiple security layers. Finally, this particular type of platform is fully compliant with global consumer data collection regulations and legislations, such as the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act.
Overall, there is still room for improvement when it comes to protecting people’s online privacy. Although removing third-party cookies is a step in the right direction, there are still many issues that are yet to be addressed and new information gathering techniques that need to be developed, adopted and put into practice. As for the Privacy Sandbox, the project’s impact remains to be seen.