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Google resumes Chrome’s more privacy-friendly SameSite cookie update

Google resumes Chrome’s more privacy-friendly SameSite cookie update


The updates were rolled back in April in light of COVID-19

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The Google Chrome logo in the center of a web-like graphic.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google announced on Thursday that it will bring its SameSite cookie update back starting July 14th, alongside the launch of Chrome 84. The update will roll out gradually to Chrome 80 and later versions.

When Chrome 80 launched in February, Google started rolling out its SameSite update, which is intended to change how cookies are handled by the browser. In April, Google announced it would be rolling back that update in order to keep essential websites working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The update will resume starting July 14th, alongside the launch of Chrome 84

Chrome used to accept cookies by default, but with the introduction of its SameSite labeling policy, Chrome will block cookies from functioning in a third-party context, unless they carry specific labels. This is part of Chrome’s phased approach to privacy: this is supposed to limit which cookies collect data across sites, and in turn, limit the data those websites collect on users.

Blocking third-party cookies can cause some websites to break, particularly during the login process, since cookies store your login information across sites and visits. Prior to Google rolling back the update, several sites had been adjusted according to the SameSite policy. However, Google said it wanted to provide stability and continuity during the COVID-19 outbreak, especially for essential services, so it decided to temporarily halt the update with the aim to resume over the summer.

Google is taking a gradual approach to blocking third-party cookies, since Google is worried that blocking cookies could break some websites. In contrast to Safari and Firefox, which block third-party cookies by default, Chrome has decided to phase them out within two years. Following this incremental plan, earlier this month Google announced Chrome would be blocking third-party cookies in incognito mode. The Chrome team is also working on a set of alternative technologies which are intended to preserve website revenue and allow advertisers to target audiences — but without breaking logins to sites or being too invasive for consumers.