Is Big Brother Watching? Google’s Shady Move On Tracking Cookies You NEED To Know About

Google tracking cookies

Published on April 25th, 2024

Google has once again postponed its timeline for phasing out third-party tracking cookies in its Chrome web browser. This delay is in response to ongoing concerns from U.K. regulators regarding its Privacy Sandbox initiative, aimed at addressing competition issues.

The company is actively collaborating with the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) with the goal of reaching a mutually agreeable solution by the year’s end. Under the revised plan, Google intends to commence the gradual elimination of third-party cookies early next year.

This marks the third postponement of the initiative since its announcement in 2020. Initially slated for early 2022, then pushed to late 2023, and subsequently to the latter half of 2024.

The Privacy Sandbox encompasses a range of initiatives designed to provide privacy-centric alternatives to tracking cookies and cross-app identifiers, facilitating the delivery of personalized advertisements to users.

While Google introduced these features to a subset of Chrome browser users last year, scrutiny from the U.K. watchdog, in conjunction with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), remains vigilant to ensure that Privacy Sandbox benefits consumers equitably and doesn’t unduly favor Google’s advertising technology.

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Both Apple and Mozilla discontinued support for third-party cookies in 2020.

Google acknowledged the ongoing challenges of addressing divergent feedback from industry stakeholders, regulators, and developers, pledging to maintain close collaboration with the entire ecosystem.

Furthermore, Google emphasized the importance of granting the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) adequate time to thoroughly assess all evidence, including results from industry tests, which market participants have been asked to submit by the end of June.

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Google encountered a setback as a draft report from the ICO highlighted gaps in the company’s proposed replacements, which advertisers could potentially exploit to identify users, thus compromising privacy and anonymity objectives. This revelation was reported by the Wall Street Journal last week.

Meanwhile, Google announced plans to enhance client-side encrypted (CSE) Google Meet calls by enabling support for inviting external participants, even those without a Google account.