Safari Is Now The Best Browser For Blocking Third-Party Tracking

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Safari Is Now The Best Browser For Blocking Third-Party Tracking
Photo: <a href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/new-york-usa-august-18-2017-699112741">Shutterstock</a>

Yesterday’s release of Safari 13.1 introduces stricter third-party cookie blocking features that prevents websites from identifying Safari users and tracking their web activity. This means Apple’s default web browser is now the best choice for stopping third-party trackers, and the first browser—beating Chrome to the punch—to block third-party cookies outright.

You can read about the changes in the latest WebKit developer blog, but the post is written for web developers and gets a bit more technical than you may need. Here are the important bits: Safari’s ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) now blocks all third-party cookies by default. ITP allowed a few exceptions when it was introduced back in 2017, but websites were able to use those exceptions to identify users based on what was being blocked and track their activity. Those exceptions also made it possible to fingerprint users based on what other websites they’re currently signed into elsewhere, even if they had Safari’s most stringent privacy settings enabled.

Now, ITP will prevent all third-party tracking and disabling these workarounds. While some information is still stored, the way websites access your cookie storage has been changed and any script-writeable stored data is auto-deleted after seven days.

These are important changes and great news for Safari users, and hopefully more companies will follow Apple’s lead. Google says it will be rolling out a similar change on Chrome by 2022 but other browsers, such as Brave and Tor, still allow for certain cookie exceptions despite having otherwise stellar reputations for user anonymity.

To be fair, most browsers can be beefed up with extensions, advanced settings, and other software like VPNs to make them more secure, but when it comes to out-of-the-box tracking settings, Safari appears to be the browser to beat (for now).

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