Google has recently announced a new initiative. It will result in removing third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022. Since Chrome has over 60% of the browser market share, it is truly a watershed moment. Other platforms are likely to follow suit.
Does it mean a radical revolution in privacy for the average internet user? Probably not. Understand what these changes mean and how they will impact you below.
What Are Cookies Again?
Cookies are something you hear about all the time. You've seen a little notice on most websites you visit that makes you agree to cookies before the page loads.
Cookies are essential internet tools that store user's information on sites. They often get a bad rap because, in a way, they follow you around. But cookies do important tasks too. For example, they keep things in your online shopping cart or pre-fill out contact forms.
Without cookies, you would have to re-enter logins, find old pages, and do other things that can diminish the quality of your online experience.
How Do Cookies Work?
Cookies are a piece of information that a website server sends to or receives from your browser. The same thing goes for apps as well. First and second-party cookies are the ones exchanged between browsers and host servers.
Third-party cookies (what Google is killing) do not control browser access. Instead, they partner with hosting sites to advertise, collect data, or track user behavior. Time and time again, it has proven dangerous to user privacy.
What Does Google's Announcement Mean for You?
It's definitely the end of an era. It is a huge win for privacy activists, but the results will only go so far. Sure, there may be no more third-party cookies from advertisers. It doesn't mean Google, Facebook, and the other tech giants don't have a stranglehold on your data. Likewise, this move will encourage advertisers to find new ways to learn more about you.
And it's not like Google is going to wave goodbye to the billions it generates in ad revenue each year. Instead, Google is channeling current sources into its Privacy Sandbox. Not much is known about this project yet. But the goal of Project Sandbox is to provide users with enhanced privacy while still delivering targeted advertisements.
What Should You Do?
The most important thing to remember is that anytime one of the tech giants announces something like this, you shouldn't get your hopes up. Finding ways to monetize your data is the key to their success.
We live in a world that is entirely underpinned by Google. Do you want to find a great new restaurant? Do you need to send a work email? What about watching a YouTube video? It is all Google.
While it's possible to survive without Google, it isn't practical for many people. But there are plenty of ways to get your data more under your control:
The first step is using a high-quality VPN service like NordVPN. NordVPN uses the best encryption technologies that safeguard your internet connection. It encrypts and anonymizes your connection so that no one can track your internet activity back to you. As long as you don't log in and submit your data to sites willingly, that is.
You have to make some compromise between experience and accepting/rejecting cookies. Some cookies are essential to make websites run. While you may need to accept these, you don't need to keep them around forever. Instead, take time to delete them.
Also, you can already disable third-party cookies in most browsers, including Google Chrome. No need to wait until 2022. And there are always privacy-focused browsers you can use.
What Else You Should Do
In the end, as long as you use Google products, it can keep tabs on you.
It's time to switch from Chrome and consider options like Tor or EpicBrowser. You don't need to make the call between convenience and privacy. They are all about protecting your privacy online while keeping things straightforward and easy.
Some tech analysts advocate using multiple browsers. You can have one browser for internet browsing, one for financial accounts, and another one for online shopping.
If you don't want anyone taking advantage of your search history, you can use DuckDuckGo for search. You may not get as accurate results as on Google, but nobody is using your data. Isn't that a fair compromise?
Google's killing third-party cookies. But it's not going to be a radical change. Instead, use this as a wake-up call to re-evaluate and improve your privacy strategies. Because it's only a matter of time before the successor to cookies emerges.