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Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Google said on Tuesday that it plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in its popular web browser, Chrome, within the next two years.

Why it matters: Chrome is the last major internet browser to discontinue cookies, which means that the end of the decades-old tracking technology is finally in sight.

  • Chrome is the most widely used desktop browser in the U.S. and the second-most widely used mobile browser in the U.S. behind Safari.

Details: Unlike its rivals Apple and Mozilla, which started blocking third-party cookies by default in their browsers last year, Google says it plans to take a more gradual approach to phasing out cookies.

  • "Some browsers have reacted to these concerns by blocking third-party cookies, but we believe this has unintended consequences that can negatively impact both users and the web ecosystem," said Justin Schuh, director of Chrome Engineering in a company blog post.
  • Instead, Chrome has introduced new technologies that it hopes will enable marketers to target users efficiently online without raising user privacy or security concerns.
  • Schuh said in the post that this phased-out approach stops businesses that are being impacted by the changes from taking "blunt approaches" to working around the new policies that could risk user security.

Be smart: The move will force the digital advertising and marketing industries to adjust their businesses to be more privacy-focused.

  • For decades, advertisers relied on cookies to track users across the web and to retarget them with ads, particularly on their desktops.
  • But over the past few years, marketers began moving away from using cookies to track user browser data and instead developed better methods of tracking people across the web. These tactics are considered more effective and secure, especially since fewer people use desktop browsers these days, and most rely more heavily on mobile.

The big picture: The advertising ecosystem has evolved dramatically over the past few years as privacy regulation has evolved and consumer expectations toward privacy have increased.

  • Google rivals Apple and Mozilla already began blocking third-party cookies last year for their respective web browsers, Safari and Firefox.
  • Verizon on Tuesday launched its own privacy-focused browser called OneSearch.
  • DuckDuckGo, a decade-old, privacy-centric search engine, has seen a spike in searches over the past few years.

Go deeper: The death of the internet cookie

Go deeper

51 mins ago - World

WHO revises air quality guidelines to reduce deaths from pollution

Smoke from California wildfires over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in August 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Wednesday updated air quality guidelines it set roughly 15 years ago, saying that negative health effects from air pollutants can begin at lower levels than it previously thought.

Why it matters: The changes are meant to reduce deaths from pollutants that cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and prematurely kill an estimated 7 million people around the world annually, according to the WHO.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

The road to COP26 gets slightly easier

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The bad diplomatic vibes heading into the critical United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, might be improving slightly.

Catch up fast: Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday pledged to end overseas finance for building new coal-fired power plants and boost support for clean energy in developing nations.

Corporations turn focus to retaining frontline workers

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Companies are narrowing the blue- and white-collar experience as they're forced to adapt to a worker-led market.

Driving the news: Basic office tools and concepts like corporate communications and schedule flexibility are migrating to frontline operations through investments in technology.