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Limited Chrome users start tracking-free browsing in January

The Chrome Privacy Sandbox's Tracking Protection prompt that notifies the user of third-party cookies being restricted. (Google)

The moment has arrived. Google has officially declared that, as part of its ongoing “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, it will commence the restriction of third-party cookies in Chrome, starting on January 4, 2024. Initially, only one percent of Chrome users worldwide will experience the activation of “Tracking Protection,” blocking third-party cookies by default. If you’re among this select group, a prompt will appear on the address bar, notifying you of this change and enhancing privacy by curbing cross-site tracking.

Assuming a smooth transition, Google plans to progressively expand the rollout to include 100 percent of Chrome users by the second half of 2024. Naturally, some challenges may arise during this transitional phase. In cases where a website fails to load repeatedly, Chrome offers the option to temporarily re-enable third-party cookies. Users can accomplish this by clicking on the eye icon located on the right side of the address bar to toggle this feature.

As of StatCounter’s November 2023 report, Google’s Chrome dominated the global browser market with a share of 62.85 percent. Apple’s Safari secured the second position with a market share of 20.04 percent, while Microsoft’s Edge trailed behind at a modest 5.5 percent. Considering the extensive user base of Chrome, currently numbering in the billions, Google’s characterization of the initial one-percent rollout as a “key milestone” aligns with its responsible approach to phasing out third-party cookies.

However, Google still faces potential challenges, particularly from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority and similar regulatory bodies in other countries. These authorities are scrutinizing the measures taken by Google to minimize the impact on local advertising businesses as part of the ongoing transition.

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