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UK’s CMA Raises Concerns, May Delay Google’s Third-Party Cookie Phase-Out

 |  February 5, 2024

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has voiced concerns that could potentially delay Google’s planned phase-out of third-party cookies. The CMA’s latest report on Google’s Privacy Sandbox acknowledges the tech giant’s compliance with commitments but highlights several unresolved issues that need addressing before the removal of third-party cookies from Chrome, scheduled for later this year.

Paul Bland, Head of Biddable at Havas Media Network UK, emphasized the significance of ongoing dialogue, stating, “While there is progress, there remain many outstanding questions and requirements for resolutions against the backdrop of what now feels like a relatively short timeframe of the proposed deprecation of the cookie.”

Read more: UK Closes Collusion Case Against Google & Meta

The CMA has outlined four key requests to Google in preparation for the third-party cookie deprecation:

  1. Ensure that Privacy Sandbox proposals do not reinforce the existing market position of Google’s advertising products and services.
  2. Address specific design issues with Privacy Sandbox tools, including concerns about how the Topics API alternative may disadvantage small ad tech firms.
  3. Clarify long-term governance arrangements for Privacy Sandbox.
  4. Provide assurances for the future development of Privacy Sandbox tools and commit to ongoing engagement with industry stakeholders.

The CMA clarified that raising these concerns does not imply a belief that the Privacy Sandbox changes cannot proceed. However, it signals the necessity for further resolutions before moving forward.

James Rosewell, Co-founder of Movement for an Open Web, characterized the report as a significant admonishment for Google, noting, “This report is a major slap on the wrist for Google. Underneath the diplomatic language lie at least 39 areas of significant regulatory concern that Google will need to address before third-party cookies can be removed.”

Rosewell expressed skepticism about the timeline, stating, “The CMA states that ‘Google cannot proceed with third-party cookie deprecation until our concerns are resolved,’ and, although the CMA doesn’t say it explicitly, no sensible reader would believe that these problems can be overcome in the next few years.”

Source: Campaign Asia