Google delays removal of third-party cookies again

Google’s project to remove third-party cookies from its Chrome browser is experiencing further delays. The project’s aim is to remove third-party cookies (set by a domain other than the one which the user is visiting and often used by advertisers to collect information for targeted advertising) and replace this with a “Privacy Sandbox” which it intends will provide more protection for privacy whilst still allowing for targeted advertising (we understand that as part of the plan, advertisers will receive aggregated data via APIs).

This move has been greeted with a mixed response (the removal of third-party cookies being seen as a way to reduce cross-site tracking of individuals, but concerns being raised about the mechanism replacing this in terms of transparency, doubts over whether the new mechanism does indeed protect privacy and the concentration of power in Google’s hands) and the plan is being watched carefully by regulators and other interested parties.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have been investigating the plan since 2021.

They have raised numerous competition concerns including (amongst others) the need to ensure the move will not reinforce the existing market position of Google’s advertising products and services, the need to address the design issues, including concerns about whether the methods used will disadvantage small ad tech companies and the need to clarify the governance of the new mechanism. The CMA issued an update in April 2024 in which it was made clear that the issues have not yet been fully resolved (although Google has been engaging with CMA and the ICO to resolve the issues).

The Wall Street Journal also recently reported that the ICO has produced a draft report which raises continuing issues with the approach from a data protection perspective.

These issues may be some of those referred to in Google’s blog post on the delay which states that they recognise:

“ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers, and will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem. It’s also critical that the CMA has sufficient time to review all evidence including results from industry tests, which the CMA has asked market participants to provide by the end of June. Given both of these significant considerations, we will not complete third-party cookie deprecation during the second half of Q4”

The current estimate is that the removal of third-party cookies should commence in early 2025.

If you would like advice on how the change will affect your business, please get in touch here.


Don't just take our word for it