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EU’s Vestager Says Google’s Planned Removal Of Third-Party Cookies Is An Antitrust Concern

 |  April 25, 2021

The European Commission verified in writing on Friday, April 23, that Google’s use of data to fuel its ad tech business is a focus of its ongoing antitrust investigation.

As Brussels-based journalist Alexander Fanta highlighted on Twitter, this could mean by extension that Google’s FLoC proposal is also part of the Commission’s probe. If so, the same might be true for the other proposals in the Chrome Privacy Sandbox.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority already launched its own inquiry into Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies after receiving complaints about how Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals could impact competition. That investigation is also ongoing.

The European Commission’s statements came in response to questions raised in January by Carmen Avram, a Romanian member of Parliament, after Politico reported on the existence of two new antitrust investigations into Google’s business practices.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, answered on behalf of the Commission. “The Commission is currently investigating the way data concerning users is gathered, processed and monetised by Google. The investigation, under the competition rules, covers the use of data and practices in the provision of ‘ad tech’ services, in which Google acts as intermediary between advertisers and online publishers. Google’s proposals to deprecate third-party cookies are within the scope. The preliminary investigation is ongoing and it is too early to report any findings.”

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