UK Competition Regulator To Oversight Google’s Plan To Remove Browser Cookies

Britain’s competition regulator will have a say in Google’s plan to remove third-party browser cookies that track people online.

The Competition and Markets Authority said Friday it has secured commitments from Google to address concerns about the proposal. The CMA is worried that the plans will harm newspapers and other businesses that rely on personalized ads.

Web cookies are small pieces of code that websites deliver to a visitor’s browser. They can be used to track online activity, such as items added to a shopping basket. Third-party cookies are often added by advertisers to serve people with personalized ads.

Google plans to scrap third-party cookies on its Chrome browser and replace them with an alternative. The company launched an initiative called “Privacy Sandbox” last year in a bid to address privacy concerns about cookies. One of the proposals Google is confident about is called “Federated Learning of Cohorts.” The CMA launched a formal probe into the changes in January.

Google is committed to involve the CMA and the Information Commissioner’s Office, the U.K.’s privacy watchdog, in the development of its Privacy Sandbox proposals. The company promised to publicly disclose results of any tests of the effectiveness of alternatives and said it wouldn’t give preferential treatment to Google’s advertising products or sites.

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