Google rolls back Chrome feature that blocks cross-site tracking

It wants to ensure that the feature doesn't break essential services' websites in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Mariella Moon
April 4th, 2020
In this article: Chrome, google, internet, SameSite
Wachiwit via Getty Images
Wachiwit via Getty Images

Google is temporarily rolling back a feature it launched with Chrome 80 to make sure it doesn't break websites in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Back in February, the tech giant started enforcing a new cookie classification system that was designed to block cross-site tracking on Chrome in an effort to prevent bad actors from exploiting cookie vulnerabilities.

The feature requires developers to indicate their website cookies' SameSite attribute, which dictates how those small files a browser saves should behave. If they don't, then Google will automatically switch that attribute to a secure option that prevents cookies from tracking users across websites. However, the change can break products and services that need cross-site tracking to work.

Google says most developers were prepared for the change -- it was first revealed in mid-2019, after all. But the company still decided to roll back its enforcement, because it wants to ensure that websites providing essential services, such as banking, online groceries, government services and healthcare, continue to be accessible in these difficult times. The tech giant will start the rollback today and promises to announce when it plans to resume its enforcement on the SameSite updates page.

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