Most internet users don’t exactly like third-party cookies. After all, cookies track our online activity and allow advertisers to bombard us with targeted ads. As a result, browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer have started to adapt to these tactics by using “Do Not Track” technology. The other limitation with third-party cookies is that they cannot track mobile devices (accounting for 20% of global web traffic) or web-delivered video services.
For major tech companies such Microsoft and Google, they inherently need to find a new method to track user data; one that doesn’t rely on this now outdated technology. According to Ad Age, Microsoft is in the process of planning its own tracking technology that would effectively span the desktop, mobile spectrum and the Xbox console. One Microsoft spokesperson added, “We agree that going beyond the cookie is important. Our priority will be to find ways to do this that respect the interests of the consumers.”
Although a new tracking device might seem like another unwanted annoyance, it might actually have its advantages. Currently, third-party cookies aren’t a proprietary technology and can therefore be used by essentially anyone. As a result, people get tracked by all sorts of different companies and individuals, which in itself raises plenty of privacy concerns. In contrast, Microsoft’s method would be exclusive to them, and consumers wishing to use their products would provide tracking permission when they sign the corresponding user agreement.
With Google, Apple and Facebook also actively working on their own tracking systems, it would appear that tracking power would be harbored by just a few big names. This would greatly please the Federal Trade Commission, fully knowing that they only need to monitor a few companies at a time. That being said, there is one major drawback: Microsoft and other tech firms could easily restrict the technology to just their devices and services rather than licensing it out, forcing advertisers to send all of their money their way.
It's important to note that these plans are still in the early stages, and it could be quite some time before they’re actually implemented.