Google has pledged to give UK regulators an oversight role over its plan to phase out existing ad tracking technology from its Chrome browser
LONDON – Google is giving UK regulators a oversight role over its phase-out of ad-tracking technology from its Chrome browser, in a set of commitments the tech giant is proposing to implement globally to avoid a competition investigation.
The UK competition watchdog has investigated Google’s proposals to remove so-called third-party cookies, fearing they could hurt digital advertising competition and boost the company’s market power.
To address concerns, Google on Friday offered a set of commitments, including giving the Autorité de la concurrence and the markets a monitoring role while the company designs and develops replacement technology.
“The emergence of tech giants like Google has presented competition authorities around the world with new challenges that require a new approach,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the watchdog.
The Competition and Markets Authority will work with technology companies to “shape their behavior and protect competition for the benefit of consumers,” he said.
Google’s promises also include “substantial limits” on how Google will use and combine individual user data for digital advertising purposes and a commitment not to discriminate against rivals in favor of its own advertising businesses with new technology.
If Google’s commitments are accepted, they will be implemented globally, the company said in a blog post.
Third-party cookies – snippets of code that record user information – are used to help businesses target advertising more effectively and fund free online content like newspapers. However, they are also a long-standing source of privacy concerns, as they can be used to track users across the Internet.
Google has rocked the digital advertising industry with plans to remove third-party cookies, raising concerns that new technologies will leave even less room for online advertising competitors. The plan is to replace “individual identifiers” with techniques that hide users in large online groups based on their interests while maintaining web browsing histories on devices to maintain privacy.
The competition watchdog will seek comments from other players in the tech and digital advertising industry until July on Google’s commitments. Then, he will decide to accept Google’s offer and close the competition file.
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