Safari receives update to block all third-party cookies and stop user tracking

Earlier this week Apple released a significant update for its Safari web browser. More specifically some much needed improvements to the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) of the browser across the different platforms on which it is available – iOS, macOS and iPadOS.

Said improvements will be of interest to those with security concerns while using the internet, as now the update will block all third-party cookies, which means advertisers and other websites will not be able to track you while online.

It is important to note that some, “cross-site tracking is allowed,” according to Apple, but it is nowhere near as commonplace as it was prior to the update.

“It might seem like a bigger change than it is. But we’ve added so many restrictions to ITP since its initial release in 2017 that we are now at a place where most third-party cookies are already blocked in Safari,” explained Apple Webkit engineer, John Wilander.

“To keep supporting cross-site integration, we shipped the Storage Access API two years ago to provide the means for authenticated embeds to get cookie access with mandatory user control. It is going through the standards process in the W3C Privacy Community Group right now,” he adds.

Perhaps more importantly, this new update now places Safari a pull two years ahead of Google’s Chrome browser in the privacy and tracking stakes, as The Verge points out.

There are also other offerings which have a similar functionality, such as Tor Browser, but given that Safari is not as niche as that platform, the recent update remains a significant milestone.

Whether it prompts more users over to Safari remains to be seen, but regardless, it’s a step in the right direction.

“Safari continues to pave the way for privacy on the web, this time as the first mainstream browser to fully block third-party cookies by default,” continues Wilander.

“We will report on our experiences of full third-party cookie blocking to the privacy groups in W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) to help other browsers take the leap,” Wilander concludes.

Those interested in experiencing the newly update version of Safari, will need to ensure it’s version 13.1.


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