Friday 11 June 2021 8:50 am

UK competition regulator secures commitments from Google on third-party cookies

The UK’s competition watchdog has said it has secured commitments from Google on its proposal to remove third-party cookies from its Chrome browser. 

Third-party cookies are used by digital advertising companies to personalise and target advertising. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the commitments came after it took action in January over concerns Google’s proposals could restrict competition. 

It warned advertising spending become even more concentrated on Google which would harm consumers, as well as undermine the ability of online publishers to generate revenue. 

The tech giant has said its new tech – the Privacy Sandbox – would allow users to receive relevant ads without being tracked on an individual level. The CMA will now launch a consultation on whether to acept the commitments and if accepted they would be legally binding. 

“The emergence of tech giants such as Google has presented competition authorities around the world with new challenges that require a new approach,” CMA boss Andrea Coscelli said. 

“If accepted, the commitments we have obtained from Google become legally binding, promoting competition in digital markets, helping to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising and safeguarding users’ privacy.” 

Earlier this week Google agreed to pay €220m to settle a French investigation over its abuse of power in online advertising.

The French Competition Authority said Google has been unfairly sending business to its advertising server and its online advertising auction house, at an unfair advantage to its rivals.

“The decision fining Google is particularly significant as it is the first throughout the world to tackle complex algorithmic auction processes used for online display-advertising,” Isabelle de Silva, head of France’s Autorité de la concurrence said.

It comes as part of a wave of antitrust investigations by the French regulator into tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook. Last week Facebook tried to placate regulators by making commitments.