Chrome Cookie Change Put on Hold due to Pandemic

John Lister's picture

Google has temporarily reversed a change intended to increase security and privacy in the Chrome browser. It says it can't risk disrupting websites when so many people are more reliant on the Internet than normal.

The change was to the way Chrome handles third-party cookies. These are small text files placed on a computer when it visits a website. Unlike standard cookies, they aren't accessed by the site in question, but rather a third-party and are often associated with unpopular behavior such tracking a user's activity across the web to build up a profile of their interests to target advertising; Facebook does this kind of tracking.

In February, Google updated Chrome so that by default it only allowed first party cookies to be installed. Third-party cookies were only allowed when the website operator specifically marked the cookie as approved and secure. That could happen, for example, when a website operator embedded a YouTube video which accesses cookies that identify the user and let them rate a video or save it to watch later.

Logins Could Glitch

The problem is that it will take time for website owners to update their sites to label such cookies as "valid", and that could affect functionality, for example with logins.

Although most sites were willing to implement the new changes, Google says right now isn't a suitable time to risk any disruption to online services such as "banking, online groceries, government services and healthcare." That problem is worsened by the fact that IT staff have got plenty of other changes to deal with as more people work from home. (Source:

Feature Updates Coming To Chrome

As a result, Google has decided to pause its enforcement of the policy. It says it plans to return to normal over the summer but will give plenty of notice before it does so. (Source:

The move follows a brief pause on adding new features to Chrome to reduce possible problems for workers who don't have access to in-person IT support at the moment. Google has now returned to feature updates but with a looser schedule to allow more time to test for problems.

What's Your Opinion?

Was Google right to make this move? Have you spotted any unusual problems such as log-ins on websites since February? Should Google have continued to hold off on adding new Chrome features?

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David's picture

Call me a skeptic, but I'm not about to trust a website that has a vested interest in serving up third-party cookies will do so in any way that benefits anyone other than themselves or the site the cookie belongs to.