Apple updates Safari on iOS and Mac to block third-party cookies


Safari is blocking third-party cookies. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Annoyed at how much data companies gather from your web browsing? Apple’s giving Safari on iOS and MacOS an update to help. 

Announced by Apple WebKit engineer John Wilander in a blog post on the WebKit site, the move fully blocks third-party cookies, bringing the latest version of Safari in-line with other browsers like Tor. (WebKit is the browser engine that powers Safari.)

Google said in a blog post of its own earlier this year that it hopes to add similar functionality to Chrome “within two years.” 

Cookies allow for tracking behavior across websites, something that has been under increasing scrutiny in recent years as the internet community began taking stock of how much data was being collected online by these trackers, known as third-party cookies and often used by social networks and advertising companies. With this new update, the newest Safari will no longer allow those cookies to operate.

In tweets accompanying his blog post, Wilander says that Apple will report back its experience to privacy groups such as the W3C (Worldwide Web Consortium) to “help other browsers take the leap.” 

The move is Apple’s latest to fight against data trackers. Last year the company built a new browser technology called Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution that was designed to let advertisers figure out when their ads successfully got you to buy something but without tracking you across the internet and harvesting personal details to do so. 

The company has taken other steps to try and limit the gathering of people’s information, including creating Sign In with Apple, a way for people to sign in to apps and websites without having to necessarily divulge personal information such as their actual email address. 

The new version of Safari is out now in iOS and iPadOS 13.4 and in Safari version 13.1 on MacOS. 

CNET’s Stephen Shankland contributed to this report. 

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