Google Chrome will not phase out tracking cookies until late 2023

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The American technology giant, Google is pushing back its plans to fully block tracking cookies in the Chrome browser until 2023, delayed by nearly two years a move that has drawn antitrust concerns from competitors and regulators.

In the blog post announcing the delay, Google says that decision to phase out cookies over a “three-month period” in mid-2023 is “subject to our engagement with the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).”

Google had wanted to stop a large number of advertisement-personalisation companies from gathering users’ browsing interests through cookies from January 2022. But rivals accused the world’s biggest online ads seller by revenue of using improved privacy as a shield to gain greater market share.

Alphabet shares were up 0.5 percent last day. But shares soared for companies that had been scrambling to reduce reliance on cookies. Among them, Trade Desk surged 18 percent, PubMatic 12 percent and Criteo SA 10 percent.

Britain’s CMA after an investigation agreed this month with Google to oversee the Chrome changes. The technology giant said its new timeline was part of the agreement.

“We need to move at a responsible pace, allowing sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services,” Vinay Goel, privacy engineering director for Chrome, wrote in a blog post.

The CMA said it was examining on whether to accept Google’s commitments and in that context, it had been informed of the proposed changes to the timeline. “If the commitments are accepted they become legally binding, promoting competition in digital markets, helping to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising, and safeguarding users’ privacy,” a spokesperson said.

Google is working with the ad industry on technologies that could replace the tracking capabilities of cookies while better protecting online privacy. Now it targets to pick new techniques by late next year, do final testing and then gradually phase out tracking cookies starting mid-2023 if the CMA signs off.

Critics question the effectiveness of alternatives. They add that Google can only benefit from the elimination of what are known as third-party cookies because it can continue collecting similar data through YouTube, search, and it’s other popular systems. A data advantage could help Google attract more advertisers.

Related: Google’s adtech business to face EU investigation by year-end; Sources