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Google Begins Phase-Out of Cookies in Chrome, Aiming for Privacy Overhaul Amidst Mixed Reactions

In a landmark move, Google has initiated the first phase of its ambitious plan to phase out cookies, starting with disabling them for 1% of Chrome users, which accounts for about 30 million people. This step marks the beginning of the end for cookies in Chrome, with the full eradication expected by year-end. For years, cookies have been integral to how tech companies, including Google, track user behavior online for targeted advertising and other tracking purposes. This shift comes amid heightened privacy concerns and growing scrutiny over tech giants' data practices.

The demise of third-party cookies in Chrome, used by approximately 60% of internet users, is poised to transform online tracking. Google's senior director of product management for Privacy Sandbox, Victor Wong, emphasized the significance of this change in an interview, stating that it aligns with their mission to maintain a private yet accessible and useful internet. This move by Google is part of a broader initiative named the "Privacy Sandbox," which aims to offer a more private form of tracking. Instead of sending data to external servers, Chrome will now categorize users into groups on the device itself, allowing advertisers to target cohorts without accessing individual browsing behaviors.

However, this transition isn't without controversy. Privacy advocates argue that Google’s new system still involves tracking and doesn’t fully align with the concept of privacy. Moreover, competitors in the advertising industry view Google's new tracking tools as an anticompetitive threat, while privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation argue it consolidates tracking power with Chrome. The EFF suggests users employ tools like the Privacy Badger browser extension to counter these new tracking measures.

Despite these concerns, Google's initiative reflects a pivotal moment in internet history, as it attempts to balance user privacy with the commercial and practical realities of the web. The transition away from cookies is a significant change, signaling a new era in online tracking and data privacy.

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