Google ‘cannot proceed with cookie deprecation until concerns resolved’, CMA warns

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said that Google “cannot proceed with third-party cookie deprecation”, until its concerns are resolved.

As a result, the comments could potentially delaying the search giant’s timeline of phasing out third-party cookies, which was due to be finalised by the end of the year, following multiple postponements.

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According a new report by the CMA, Google’s Privacy Sandbox, the trade body claimed despite the tech giant complying with its demands, there are still several areas of concerns before it finalises the removal of third-party cookies.

Instead, the CMA has asked Google to ensure it does not “design, develop or use the Privacy Sandbox proposals in ways that reinforce the existing market position of its advertising products and services, including Google Ad Manager”.

It also requested the search engine to “address specific design issues with other Privacy Sandbox tools”, to “clarify the long-term governance arrangements for Privacy Sandbox” and “to give its assurances for the future development of the Privacy Sandbox tools”.

In a statement, a CMA spokesperson said: “In Q1 2024, we will focus on working with Google to resolve the competition concerns we have identified in this report. We are particularly keen on resolving any remaining concerns relating to the design of the Privacy Sandbox tools and to ensure that Google does not use the tools in a way that self-preferences its own advertising services.

“As part of this, we are also looking to clarify the longer-term governance arrangements for the Privacy Sandbox. We would welcome comments from interested parties on our analysis of the concerns so that we can take these into account in our discussions with Google between now and the standstill period.”

Responding to the concerns, Google added: “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 CMA. We are confident the industry can make the transition in 2024 based on all the tremendous progress we’ve seen from leading companies.”

The news comes as three-quarters (76%) of marketers have predicted that Google’s phaseout of third-party cookies will pose additional challenges in marketing efforts, new data has revealed.

According to HubSpot’s ‘A Guide to Accelerating Business Efficiency in 2024’, 84% acknowledge that their strategy when it comes to data, privacy was significantly impacted by the changes witnessed in 2023, in particular the increased use of AI.