Google pledges to resolve ad privacy probe with UK watchdog

Friday, June 11, 2021 | The Associated Press


In this Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 file photo, a woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai. Google has on Friday, June 11, 2021 promised to give U.K. regulators a role overseeing its plan to phase out existing ad-tracking technology from its Chrome browser as the tech giant seeks to resolve a competition investigation. The U.K. competition watchdog has been investigating Google's proposals to remove so-called third-party cookies over concerns they would undermine digital ad competition and entrench the company's market power. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

LONDON (AP) — Google has promised to give U.K. regulators a role overseeing its plan to phase out existing ad-tracking technology from its Chrome browser as part of a competition investigation into the tech giant.

The U.K. competition watchdog has been investigating Google's proposals to remove so-called third-party cookies over concerns they would undermine digital ad competition and entrench the company's market power.

To address the concerns, Google on Friday offered a set of commitments including giving the Competition and Markets Authority an oversight role as the company designs and develops a replacement technology.

“The emergence of tech giants such as Google has presented competition authorities around the world with new challenges that require a new approach," Andrea Coscelli, the watchdog's chief executive, said.

The Competition and Markets Authority will work with tech companies to “shape their behaviour and protect competition to the benefit of consumers," he said.

The promises also include “substantial limits” on how Google will use and combine individual user data for digital ad purposes and a pledge not to discriminate against rivals in favor of its own ad businesses with the new technology.

If Google's commitments are accepted, they will be applied globally, the company said in a blog post.

Third-party cookies - snippets of code that log user info - are used to help businesses more effectively target advertising and fund free online content such as newspapers. However, they've also been a longstanding source of privacy concerns because they can be used to track users across the internet.

Google shook up the digital ad industry with its plan to do away with third-party cookies, which raised fears newer technology would leave even less room for online ad rivals.

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