Apple's Safari browser has had a small but significant update to its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) - it now blocks all third-party trackers by default, "across the board".
This means that, until and unless you agree to cookies or agreements, no website can follow your activity around the web, learning your habits and mores. That's a pretty impressive bar to clear, and should reassure many users.
The blog post announcing the change, written by Apple engineer John Wilander, says that the tweak is smaller than people might think, given that successive changes to Safari's ITP have got it closer and closer to this point over time.
The long wait is over and the latest update to Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention is here: Full third-party cookie blocking and more https://t.co/JATLj198HG Safari users, welcome to the future and a safer web!— John Wilander (@johnwilander) March 24, 2020
However, this is still a policy that puts Safari ahead of most of its competitors. The blog post points out that the much less used Tor browser already has this control, while Firefox introduced it last year. But Chrome, the dominant force in the market, has clarified before that it's working on getting the feature ready for some time in 2022.
That's a two-year wait, which you have to imagine is more than long enough to make some privacy-conscious users consider switching over to Safari.
There are a host of technical details in the blog post, explaining more of exactly what's changing about ITP, and some small additional features that are part of the change, but the headline information, that the web is getting safer to browse for a lot of users, is heartening. It will be interesting to see whether this impacts the timeline on Chrome's adoption of the standard at all.