Google cools on cookie phase-out while regulators chew on plans

Privacy Sandbox slips into 2025 after challenges from UK authorities

Google's plan to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome is being postponed to 2025 amid wrangling with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

The US ad search and cloud giant noted the challenges in "reconciling divergent feedback" over its plans and the need to ensure the CMA has time to "review all evidence."

Google has long planned to drop third-party cookies in its Chrome browser as part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative. The most recent deadline was the end of 2024, but according to a company blog post , feedback and regulatory concerns mean the ban's implementation slipped.

The stated aims for Google's Privacy Sandbox are to "Phase out support for third-party cookies when new solutions are in place" and "reduce cross-site and cross-app tracking while helping to keep online content and services free for all."

However, some within the ad industry have reacted to Google's plans with alarm. In 2023, James Roswell, a digital marketer and co-founder of marketer advocacy group Movement for an Open Web, told The Register: "Privacy Sandbox removes the ability of website owners, agencies and marketers to target and measure their campaigns using their own combination of technologies in favor of a Google-provided solution."

Earlier this week, a leaked draft report raised questions over exactly how private the Privacy Sandbox actually is, and earlier in 2024 the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) published a report [PDF] complaining that Google's plan would limit the ability of smaller media companies to compete.

Google disagreed with the IAB and issued a response in which it said: "We continue to move forward with our plans to phase out third-party cookies in H2 2024, subject to addressing any remaining competition concerns from the UK Competition and Markets Authority."

In its latest post, Google said: "We remain committed to engaging closely with the CMA and ICO and we hope to conclude that process this year. Assuming we can reach an agreement, we envision proceeding with third-party cookie deprecation starting early next year." ®

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