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1994

Lou Montulli, then a 23-year-old web browser programmer at Netscape Communications, invents the web cookie.

He sought to fix one of the biggest challenges of the early, cookie-less internet: how to identify repeat visitors to a website in order to offer a tailored experience.

Montulli's creation was a small text file shared between a single website and a user's computer to help them identify each other. It was named after another programming term, "magic cookie", a packet of data that remains unchanged after being sent back and forth multiple times.

What Lou Montulli never expected was that cookies would be repurposed to invasively follow people around the internet…

1994 Cookie

1996

The Internet Engineering Task Force identifies third-party cookies as a considerable privacy threat.

The IETF is a non-profit organization that was established in 1986 in the earliest days of the web to develop and promote standardized internet technologies and practices.

By 1996, third-party cookies had evolved considerably, and were already being used in advertising. In response, the IETF recommended that all browsers block, by default, any cookie that did not come directly from the site being visited.

1996 Cookie

2002

The European Union enacts legislation requiring end-user consent for the placement of web cookies.

Enacted in 2002, the same year that the Euro currency was introduced, the ePrivacy Directive (EPD) was Europe's answer to the growing threat of third-party cookies.

In 2009, the law was amended to include required consent for storage or access of any data on electronic devices.

Unfortunately, this law and its amendment still couldn't capture that rapid rise of the third-party cookie, and it ultimately failed to have the impact it sought.

2002 Cookie

2010

Eric Butler, a software developer, releases a browser extension designed to demonstrate the ease of cookie-based hacking.

Eric Butler, a software developer, releases a browser extension designed to demonstrate the ease of cookie-based hacking. Butler created the extension called Firesheep to shine a light on the weak security measures of popular websites at the time.

With this plugin, anyone with access to the same Wi-Fi hotspot as you (at a coffee shop, for example) could access your cookies and essentially become you online, opening a Pandora’s box for cybercrime.

2010 Cookie

2018

The GDPR goes into effect, establishing the right of all European Union citizens to protect their personal data.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) remains one of the most comprehensive pieces of data protection legislation in the world today. While much of it was written to protect individuals online, there is only one section, Recital 30, that directly addresses cookies.

The contents of that section state that cookies, as they are used to identify individual users, qualify as personal data and are therefore subject to GDPR, leaving the door open to using third-party cookies so long as consent is given.

2018 Cookie

2019

Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox web browsers begin blocking third-party cookies by default.

Safari announced its third-party cookie blocking in 2017, and Firefox quickly followed suit in 2018. Both browsers have developed reputations as privacy-focused, and continue to unveil additional built-in privacy features to further protect their users. It is mainstream support like this that will make a third-party cookie-free future a reality.

2019 Cookie

2021

Trustpage launches a cookie giveaway campaign to help bring an end to the use of third-party cookies once and for all.

We've made a commitment from day one to not use third-party cookies as a business, and we're sticking to that. Learn more on our blog about why we made that decision.

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