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Google has offered UK officials full oversight of its plans to abandon the use of third-party cookies within its Chrome browser, as competition authorities around the world consider antitrust action against the move.
The tech giant’s plans to do away with third-party cookies, which help businesses target individual users, sent the advertising industry into a tailspin when it was first announced in January 2020 — no surprise, given Chrome is thought to make up almost two-thirds of web-browsing activity.
Third-party cookies allow advertisers to follow users around the internet, and target them with personalized ads. Without that option in Chrome, Google may be in a position to exercise greater control over the advertising market, offering ad products based around its first-party data collected from search, Gmail, YouTube, and app downloads, expected to come in the form of its still-in-development “Privacy Sandbox”. Few of Google’s peers and rivals in advertising can hope to match its data trove.
The plan has run into resistance from the ad industry, with Marketers for an Open Web, a consortium representing around 20 marketing firms, filing a complaint with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), demanding “long-term competitive remedies to mitigate” its dominance. The watchdog announced an investigation into the move shortly thereafter.
On Friday morning, the CMA announced it had “secured commitments from Google to address concerns” around its plans to do away with third-party cookies in Chrome, including: Increased transparency, substantial limits on how Google will use Chrome data for advertising, and agreeing not to discriminate against rivals in favor of its own advertising products.
Most significantly, Google offered the CMA a 60-day “standstill period” before it introduces any changes, during which the watchdog retains the option of reopening its investigation, should any issues arise.
“The emergence of tech giants such …read more