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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

Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Scammers seize on COVID confusion

Data: FTC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Scamming has skyrocketed in the past year, and much of the increase is attributed to COVID-related scams, more recently around vaccines.

Why it matters: The pandemic has created a prime opportunity for scammers to target people who are already confused about the chaotic rollouts of things like stimulus payments, loans, contact tracing and vaccines. Data shows that older people who aren't digitally literate are the most vulnerable.

14 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.