Google has delayed killing third-party cookies from Chrome (again)

Now the company says it’ll happen next year.

Unsplash / Greg Bulla

Google keeps promising to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome but not actually doing it. The company vowed to deprecate cookies back in 2020, pushing the date back to 2023 and then 2024. We did get some traction earlier this year, when Google disabled cookies for one percent of Chrome users, but those efforts have stalled. Now, the company says it won’t happen until next year.

It’s easy to drag Google for this but it’s not entirely in the company’s hands. The tech giant is working closely with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to ensure that any tools it implements to replace the cookie’s tracking and measurement capabilities aren’t anti-competitive. These tools are known collectively as the Privacy Sandbox and Google says it has to wait until the CMA has had “sufficient time to review” results from industry tests that’ll be provided by the end of June.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox has stirred up some controversy in recent years. The proposed tools have drawn complaints from adtech companies, publishers and ad agencies, on the grounds that they are difficult to operate, don’t adequately replace traditional cookies and give too much power to Google. To that end, the company said that it recognizes “ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers.” This is another reason given for the delay until next year.

The CMA isn’t the only regulatory agency giving the side-eye to the current iteration of these Privacy Sandbox tools. The UK-based Information Commissioner’s Office drafted a report that indicated these tools could be used by advertisers to identify consumers, as suggested by the Wall Street Journal.

Those in the ad industry want to see cookies given the heave-ho, despite complaints about Privacy Sandbox. Drew Stein, CEO of adtech data firm Audigent, told Engadget that it’s time for Google “to deliver on the promise of a better ecosystem” by implementing its plans to eliminate third-party cookies.

The CMA, on the other hand, has indicated a willingness to keep third-party cookies in play, particularly if Google’s solution does more harm than good. Craig Jenkins, the CMA’s director of digital markets, recently said the organization would delay implementation of Privacy Sandbox tools if “we’re not satisfied we can resolve the concerns”, as reported by Adweek. We’ll see what happens in 2025.

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