• Is blocking 3rd party tracking cookies desirable?

    There’s work in progress that is attempting to block 3rd party tracking cookies in Firefox, while permitting non-tracking cookies (bug 818340). The general discussion seems to be about how to accurately identify what’s a tracking cookie and what is essential to site functionality, but I don’t think any should be blocked.

    Let’s assume the best case scenario: A perfect heuristic is devised, the other browser makers copy it and tracking is now impossible so the tracking services* go out of business.

    It’s a nice idea for a privacy advocate, but it won’t happen – the tracking services will respond. Either they’ll make their cookies harder to detect (they could get the website to proxy them, or serve them from a subdomain of the website), or they’ll switch to other tracking methods such as fingerprinting. The net result is that you’ve added some hoops for webmasters to jump through when they’re asked to install an tracking service, and you’ve made it harder for privacy-sensitive users to block tracking (since blocking 3rd party cookies will no longer increase privacy).

    * By tracking services I’m mainly referring to advertisers and analytics tools

    Categories: Web development

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