Google Delays Third-Party Cookie Shutdown Once Again

Developers at Google have announced that due to testing being conducted by UK regulators, the phase-out of third-party cookies is being reconsidered. The ad technology, which was initially planned to be completely discontinued by the fourth quarter of 2024, will now continue to operate at least until 2025.

Originally, Google had planned not to eliminate third-party cookies until 2022. This deadline was later pushed to 2023, and then further postponed to 2024. Testing of the Privacy Sandbox ad platform, intended to replace the use of tracking cookies, was expected to last until 2024. The original plan was to phase out roughly 1% of third-party cookies by the first quarter of 2024 and completely disable them by default by the fourth quarter.

However, the company’s plans have once again changed. In a blog post, Google engineers explain that this time, the delay is due to UK legislation.

“We recognize that there are currently challenges in reconciling various feedback from industry stakeholders, regulators, and developers, and we will continue to closely engage with the entire ecosystem,” reads the new announcement.

Issues with the new system have arisen particularly with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The CMA is concerned not about user privacy but about other companies in the online advertising industry competing with Google. UK authorities want to ensure that Google’s changes to Chrome do not harm competitors in order to maintain its own advertising business.

While other browser manufacturers are moving away from third-party cookies, Google has stated that it will not disable this function until it creates an alternative advertising platform embedded directly into Chrome to track user interests and show them relevant ads based on their browsing history.

The new system, known as Topics API or Privacy Sandbox, began rolling out in Chrome in 2023, and Google AdSense is already compatible with it.

However, UK authorities are worried that the new Chrome advertising platform could give Google an unfair advantage. Google claims that “it is crucial for CMA to have enough time to review all evidence, including the results of industry tests that market participants must provide to CMA by the end of June.”

As a result, Google has stated that they are actively working with the CMA and ICO, and if an agreement is reached, they plan to begin phasing out the use of third-party cookies at the beginning of next year.

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