Google Chrome logo shown on a smartphone.
Thomas Truschl | Phototheque via Getty Images
LONDON – Google’s plan to remove third-party browser cookies that track people online will have the opinion of Britain’s competition regulator.
The Competition and Markets Authority said on Friday that it has received a commitment from Google to address concerns about the proposal. The CMA is concerned that the plan will harm newspapers and other businesses that rely on personalized advertisements.
Web cookies are small pieces of code that are passed on to a website 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 scrape third-party cookies on its Chrome browser and replace them with an alternative. The company launched an initiative called “Privacy Sandbox” last year to address privacy concerns about cookies. One of the offerings that Google is confident about is something called “Federated Learning of Colleagues.” The CMA began a formal investigation into the changes in January.
Google is committed to involving the UK privacy watchdog CMA and the Information Commissioner’s Office in the development of its privacy sandbox proposals. The company promised to publicly disclose the results of any testing of the alternatives’ effectiveness and said it would not prefer Google’s advertising products or sites.
Andrea Coselli, chief executive of CMA, said in a statement: “If accepted, the commitments we have obtained from Google become legally binding, promote competition in digital markets, help protect the ability of online publishers to raise money and protect users’ privacy.” .
The CMA said it would consult with “interested third parties” before deciding whether to accept Google’s commitments. If accepted, Sentinel will drop its enforcement case and engage with Google on the details of its proposals.
“We appreciate CMA’s thoughtful approach during the review and their engagement with the difficult trade-offs that this process inevitably entails,” Google’s legal director Oliver Bethel said in a blog post.
“We also welcome feedback from the public consultation and will continue to engage with CMA and industry on this important topic,” Bethel said. “We understand that our plans will be scrutinized, so we will continue to engage with other regulators, industry partners and privacy experts as well.”
The move is the latest sign of the CMA’s growing role in probing major US tech firms after Brexit – which are facing antitrust scrutiny around the world. The watchdog has been tasked by the government to set up a new digital market unit to police competition in the UK internet market.
Last week, the UK and the European Union launched two separate investigations into Facebook in the same day. Apple is also facing antitrust investigations in the UK and Europe.
Read Original Article at www.cnbc.com