Cookieless Future: Are 3rd Party Cookies Going Away?
Cookieless Future: Are 3rd Party Cookies Going Away?
25 July 2023

A World With No Cookies? Are 3rd Party Cookies Going Away?

If you’re terrified by the prospect of a world without cookies — don’t worry. We aren’t talking about getting rid of the baked dessert. Rather, we’re talking about web browser cookies

If you’ve searched around the web, you may have run into websites mentioning how they use cookies. So what does this mean? A cookie is a small data packet that sites add to your browser to store information about you. Sometimes they’re helpful. If you ever revisit that website, it will remember a bit about you to make the experience a bit more tailored to you. For example, sites you visit frequently such as Facebook, Amazon, and your local news source may add cookies to your browser so you don’t have to log in every time you visit their website.

First-Party vs Third-Party Cookies

Cookies are commonly used by almost every website. There are two main types of cookies you should know about: 

  • First-party cookies: These are distributed by the website you use to your browser. It saves information such as login info, location data, and session information. They are safe, as long as you trust the website you’re using. 
  • Third-party cookies: These are distributed by third parties through advertisements built into websites. Web advertisers will use your personal data to create targeted advertisements for your interests.

Perhaps you’re beginning to see why cookies, particularly third-party ones, can be controversial. This is why the tech giant Google has been discussing removing or blocking cookies used by third-party websites in their web browser, Google Chrome, since 2020. Currently, Google is testing getting rid of Chrome Cookies and plans to turn off third-party cookies entirely by late 2024. If you use OneLaunch’s Chromium-based browser, this could affect you. 

Cookieless Browsers = No Data?

Could a cookieless future mean no more data collection and tracking? Maybe. 

For a casual internet browser like most of us, “no cookies” means that your data won’t be as readily available to the websites that you visit. Since 2020, websites have had to ask you if you’re OK with cookies being added to your device

If you say yes, you’re agreeing to share personal information — as in your browsing history, location information, maybe some demographic data, and the device you use — to tailor a web browsing experience more relevant to your interests. However, you’re also opening the gates for potential third-party cookies being added to your browser to collect data about you.

Sharing your personal data like this isn’t particularly dangerous on its own, as it’s generally just used for targeted advertising. However, it’s your data. If you’re not comfortable with personal information being “out there,” you should have every right to control that.  

Generally, the concern is that if a third-party website has your information through a cookie, you now have to worry about its security. Could a malicious hacker access a third party’s database and steal personal data that’s stored there? 

Maybe. But a legitimate third-party internet cookie is NOT collecting very personal and private information like your passwords, tax number, date of birth, or bank information. They’re collecting data about how you behave online so they can create a profile about you and target you with ads.  

The potential elimination of third-party cookies will frustrate advertisers and marketers, as 97% of advertisers use third-party cookies to identify audiences. The removal of third-party cookies will encourage advertisers to use data collection methods that are less invasive and more beneficial to users. For example, databases may be used that track only your temporary browsing data rather than your entire history of websites visited. 

Ease of Access and First-Party Cookies

Removing cookies altogether would be fairly inconvenient for us as users, as it would require entering passwords and fresh logins every time you visit a website. Or it could lead to greater demand for plug-ins or apps to manage passwords. But, it’s not clear yet whether or not Google is planning on removing first-party cookies. Because most of the controversy surrounds third-party cookies, it’s possible that Google will only be blocking third-party advertisers from collecting data through other websites. 

If first-party cookies are removed alongside third-party cookies, there are also other technologies that can be used to prevent inconveniences that may result from the total removal of cookies. For example, Web IDs and password managers may be used to secure your login information in a single place. 

Google is unlikely to make any changes that significantly impact your browsing experience. Rather, they’re concerned about protecting the privacy of their user data. Because of this, the cookie change will probably not affect you and your Chrome experience. Keep in mind if you use a different web browser than Google Chrome, third-party cookies aren’t necessarily going away. 

If you don’t mind targeted advertisements, there may still be opportunities to share your browsing data to view advertisements for products relevant to your interests. In fact, some websites even give you incentives, like discounts, for doing this. By sharing your data this way, you’re also choosing how and what data advertisers can collect and use.

Quick Answers to Questions About Cookies

Are 3rd party cookies going away? 

Google has said it plans to eliminate cookies that track your online activities across sites, also known as third-party cookies. You can read about it in Google’s Privacy Sandbox. This cookie elimination pertains only to Google products and to products that are built on Google products (such as Chromium).

What are third-party cookies used for?

Targeted advertisements. When you visit a site about vacation homes in Nashville, Tennessee, and you start seeing display ads pop up on other sites, these were triggered by third-party cookies. 

Does this mean I’ll have to get a password manager?

No. The cookie elimination pertains only to third-party cookies, which are used to develop online profiles about you so advertisers can target you with relevant advertisements. 

Are 1st party cookies going away?

As far as we know, they are not. Not only that, but you don’t want first-party cookies to go away. These bits of code are secure and safe and as long as you follow basic best practices for not sharing passwords and using virus-scanning software, your 1st party cookie data should remain safe. First-party cookies make your online experience so much better by remembering your passwords and login information. 

What about second-party cookies? Is there such a thing?

Some people will say there is no such thing as 2nd party cookies, while others refer to 2nd party data, which is when one entity shares data with a second entity with full disclosure and permission. So, for example, when you create an account with an online retailer, and they ask you if it’s OK to share your information with their partners, and you say yes, that’s creating second-party data.