First off, lets understand what cookies are. A basic cookie is a piece of data from a website that is stored within a web browser that the website can retrieve at a later time. Cookies are used to tell the server that users have returned to a particular website.
Should you accept cookies from websites? If you worry about this, here is a rule to live by: if you are entering private information on a website, and you are asked to accept their cookies, it is best to decline because your personal information could be used to access your accounts for example, your bank account.
All You Need to Know About Third-Party Cookies
First-party cookies are stored under the same domain you are currently visiting. So, if you are on example.com, all cookies stored under this domain are considered first-party cookies. Those cookies are usually used to identify a user between pages, remember selected preferences, or store your shopping cart. You can hardly find a website nowadays that does not use first-party cookies.
Third-party cookies, as explained before, are cookies that are stored under a different domain than you are currently visiting. They are mostly used to track users between websites and display more relevant ads between websites. Another good example is a support chat functionality provided by a 3rd party service.
Second-party cookies are a questionable topic. Some people might say they don’t exist at all. In general, second-party data is some first-party data shared between partners. In this sense, second-party cookies are just part of that data related to cookies.
Are Third-Party cookies actually useful? Since the late 1990s, online marketers have built their businesses on the ability to track online users and then target them with advertisements, and much of this has been through the use of third-party cookies. Let’s play “devil’s advocate” for a moment. Could third-party cookies actually be useful for users? In a way, yes. The two largest online advertising firms, Google Ads and AdSense, make a valid point that 3rd party cookies are useful to consumers as they create advertisements that are in line with individual interests. After all, if you are forced to see the ads, it’s better if they are related to your interests.
The end of Third-Party Cookies
With the passage of CCPA, ePR, and GDPR, governments are seeking to protect the privacy rights of website users. These laws and regulations create civil and/or criminal penalties for those that fail to notify web users of the presence of cookies. These regulations also require website operators to let users know what information is being collected and to whom this information is shared, along with a way to opt out at any time.
Third-party cookies’ days are numbered. Pressure from regulators and consumers has led many within the tech industry to declare third-party cookies (and the targeted ads fueled by them) will soon come to an end. Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox now block 3rd party cookies by default. One notable holdout is Google Chrome, which has a commanding 67% of browser market share.