In February Google started limiting the functionality of third-party cookies, requiring that cookies that are labelled for third-party use can only be accessed over an HTTPS connection.

The so-called SameSite rules were to make it harder to track users from site to site using 3rd party tracking cookies, and were the first step to completely abolishing 3rd party cookies.

The change had the potential to break apps and websites however, and this week Google announced that they are rolling back the changes to reduce the pressure on web developers, saying:

In light of the extraordinary global circumstances due to COVID-19, we are temporarily rolling back the enforcement of SameSite cookie labeling, starting today. While most of the web ecosystem was prepared for this change, we want to ensure stability for websites providing essential services including banking, online groceries, government services and healthcare that facilitate our daily life during this time. As we roll back enforcement, organizations, users and sites should see no disruption.

Google hopes to bring back the changes in the summer.

The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in much of previous efforts around privacy being abandoned, with GDPR rules and medical data handling rules being widely ignored even in the highest corridors of power.

If appears the crisis has revealed that privacy is a luxury we can currently ill afford.

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