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Google changing how Chrome handles cookies to improve privacy, security

Google says it's also implementing several measures to combat the practice of browser fingerprinting.

Published onMay 8, 2019

Google Chrome on the Pixel 2 XL.
  • Google has revealed that it’s changing how Chrome handles cookies.
  • The company is tweaking how cookies work while also offering more transparency.
  • Google says it’s also implementing measures to combat browser fingerprinting.

Cookies are an integral part of the web today, allowing websites to save your login information, preferences and more. But they’re also used to track users for the purposes of targeted advertising. Now, Google has announced that it’s tweaking how the Chrome browser handles cookies to tackle privacy.

In a post on the Chromium blog, Google revealed it will offer more transparency around cookies, as well as easier controls for cookies that track you across websites.

“We are making a number of upcoming changes to Chrome to enable these features, starting with modifying how cookies work so that developers need to explicitly specify which cookies are allowed to work across websites — and could be used to track users,” read an excerpt of the post.

Read: Google tasks Android developers to focus on privacy and security

Google says it’ll require developers to use this mechanism in the coming months. It adds that the mechanism will allow users to clear cookies without affecting single-domain cookies (i.e. cookies related to login information, settings etc).

“This change also has a significant security benefit for users, protecting cookies from cross-site injection and data disclosure attacks like Spectre and CSRF by default. We also announced our plan to eventually limit cross-site cookies to HTTPS connections, providing additional important privacy protections for our users,” the company adds.

Google tackles fingerprinting too

Google says its Chrome tweaks go beyond cookies though, as it will “aggressively restrict” the practice of fingerprinting. This practice sees companies identifying unique browsers and devices without the aid of cookies, using data such as browser plugins, the user agent, and hardware details.

Enable these awesome new Chrome gestures to swipe back or forward
A photograph of a hand holding a smartphone demonstrating the new Chrome gestures for navigating through web pages.

“One way in which we’ll be doing this is reducing the ways in which browsers can be passively fingerprinted, so that we can detect and intervene against active fingerprinting efforts as they happen,” the search colossus notes.

We’ve contacted Google to find out how these changes will affect its own cookies, and will update the article when/if we receive a response. Do you think these tweaks are enough to take your privacy back from tech companies? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

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