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Firefox rolling out alternative to ad business without third-party cookies

Preparing for an advertising business without third-party cookies, non-profit Mozilla’s Firefox has rolled out its Total Cookie Protection by default to its users worldwide saying it is making Firefox the most private and secure major browser across Windows, Mac and Linux. Google has announced that it will stop the third-party cookies referring to that this will improve online privacy and less intrusive advertising.

The attested information is that the third-party cookies will vanish in 2023. Competitors and publishers have protested saying it will make Google even more dominating on the advertising market. Estimates say that about 80% of advertisers today rely on third-party cookies that will vanish.

Mozilla said in a blogpost that Total Cookie Protection is “Firefox’s strongest privacy protection to date, confining cookies to the site where they were created, thus preventing tracking companies from using these cookies to track your browsing from site to site.”

“The hyper-specific-to-you ads you so often see online are made possible by cookies that are used to track your behavior across sites and build an extremely sophisticated profile of who you are. Recent stories have shown how robust, yet under-the-radar, the data selling economy is and how easy it is for anyone to buy your data, combine it with more data about you and use it for a variety of purposes, even beyond advertising .”

“Total Cookie Protection works by creating a separate “cookie jar” for each website you visit. Instead of allowing trackers to link up your behavior on multiple sites, they just get to see behavior on individual sites. Any time a website, or third-party content embedded in a website, deposits a cookie in your browser, that cookie is confined to the cookie jar assigned to only that website. No other websites can reach into the cookie jars that don’t belong to them.”

Mozilla says this strikes “the balance between eliminating the worst privacy properties of third-party cookies and allowing those cookies to fulfill their less invasive use cases (eg to provide accurate analytics).

Google earlier this year launched its new alternative to third party cookies to target advertising since the markets did not accept the company’s earlier proposal, called FLoC. Google said the new alternative, called Topics, replaces FLoC. Topics will show advertisers what internet users are interested in but users will be able to remove them.

”With Topics, your browser determines a handful of topics, like “Fitness” or “Travel & Transportation,” that represent your top interests for that week based on your browsing history. Topics are kept for only three weeks and old topics are deleted”, Google said in a blog post.

”Topics are selected entirely on your device without involving any external servers, including Google servers. When you visit a participating site, Topics picks just three topics, one topic from each of the past three weeks, to share with the site and its advertising partners. Topics enables browsers to give you meaningful transparency and control over this data, and in Chrome, we’re building user controls that let you see the topics, remove any you don’t like or disable the feature completely.”

Topics will exclude sensitive categories, such as gender or race. The company says Topics provides internet users with a more recognizable way to see and control how data is shared, compared to tracking mechanisms like third-party cookies.

Google said the final design of the user controls and the other various technical aspects of how Topics works will be decided based on feedback and trials with developers.

There is still time before the controversial cookies will vanish and more will for sure be said about its alternatives.

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