Well this is big. The UK’s competition regulator looks set to get an emergency brake that will allow it to stop Google ending support for third party cookies, a technology that’s currently used for targeting online ads, if it believes competition would be harmed by the depreciation going ahead.
The development follows an investigation opened by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into Google’s self-styled ‘Privacy Sandbox’ earlier this year.
The regulator will have the power to order a standstill of at least 60 days on any move by Google to remove support for cookies from Chrome if it accepts a set of legally binding commitments the latter has offered — and which the regulator has today issued a notification of intention to accept.
The CMA could also reopen a fuller investigation if it’s not happy with how things are looking at the point it orders any standstill to stop Google crushing tracking cookies.
It follows that the watchdog could also block Google’s wider ‘Privacy Sandbox’ technology transition entirely — if it decides the shift cannot be done in a way that doesn’t harm competition. However the CMA said today it takes the “provisional” view that the set of commitments Google has offered will address competition concerns related to its proposals.
It’s now opened a consultation to see if the industry agrees — with the feedback line open until July 8.
Commenting in a statement, Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive,…