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Google banning third party cookies

Google is launching a test version of its Chrome browser which will block third-party cookies by default. This change, starting on Thursday, will initially affect around 30 million Chrome users, about 1% of its total user base. The move is part of a broader plan to phase out third-party cookies by the second half of 2024. Google’s decision is driven by privacy concerns and competition from other browsers that already block these cookies, as well as regulatory pressures.

To replace the functionality of third-party cookies, Google has been developing its Privacy Sandbox. This includes a feature called Protected Audience (previously FLEDGE), which aims to enable ad targeting and measurement in a privacy-preserving manner. Dr. Lukasz Olejnik, a privacy researcher, has analyzed Protected Audience in his dissertation and concludes that it could be compliant with EU data protection laws, potentially operating without processing personal data and avoiding the need for GDPR consent prompts.

However, the technology is not without legal challenges. The ePrivacy Directive, which covers information collection, might still require user consent for ad delivery. Olejnik suggests that this directive is outdated and needs revision to align with modern technologies like the Privacy Sandbox.

The Privacy Sandbox, while addressing privacy concerns, also raises competitive issues. It is being scrutinized by regulatory bodies like the UK’s Competition and Market Authority, indicating that while Google’s initiative might be a step in the right direction for privacy, it opens up new areas of concern and debate

In a groundbreaking move that’s set to redefine the digital advertising landscape, Google is rolling out a test version of its Chrome browser that automatically blocks third-party cookies. This pivotal change, commencing this Thursday, will initially impact approximately 30 million Chrome users, representing a notable 1% of its global user base. This development is a precursor to a more extensive phase-out of third-party cookies slated for the latter half of 2024, marking a significant shift in the way digital advertising operates.

At the heart of this strategic pivot is Google’s commitment to enhancing user privacy, a response to growing competition from other browsers that have already taken the lead in blocking third-party cookies, as well as increasing regulatory pressure. Google’s innovative solution to the impending cookie-less future is the Privacy Sandbox, a suite of tools and APIs designed to uphold advertising efficacy while prioritizing user privacy.

A key component of the Privacy Sandbox is the Protected Audience feature, formerly known as FLEDGE. This tool aims to revolutionize ad targeting and measurement by eliminating traditional privacy concerns. Dr. Lukasz Olejnik, a renowned privacy researcher, has recently published a dissertation that delves into the compliance of Protected Audience with EU data protection laws. His findings suggest that this Google innovation might successfully navigate the intricate landscape of EU regulations, potentially operating without processing personal data, thereby circumventing the need for GDPR consent prompts.

However, this technological advancement is not without its legal intricacies. The ePrivacy Directive, which governs information collection, might still necessitate user consent for ad delivery. Dr. Olejnik’s analysis points to a need for updating this directive to better align with modern technologies like the Privacy Sandbox.

Furthermore, the introduction of the Privacy Sandbox has stirred competitive concerns. It’s under the microscope of entities such as the UK’s Competition and Market Authority, highlighting that Google’s stride towards privacy must be carefully balanced with competitive fairness in the digital marketplace.

This strategic move by Google is not just a technical upgrade; it’s a reshaping of the digital advertising ecosystem, poised to influence how businesses across the UK and beyond engage with consumers online. As privacy takes center stage, the industry must adapt to this new era where user trust and regulatory compliance are as crucial as advertising reach and precision.