Google has decided to extend the deadline for third party cookies and to pause the FLoC testing in July. This decision is the result of government pressure and antitrust lawsuit threats. Indeed, recently, Google had to deal with the CMA queries, the French Autorité de la concurrence’s sanctions and the European Commission’s investigation. Is this a move towards more transparency or a strategy to appease regulatory institutions ?
For websites to adapt to the changes ?
In its “updated timeline for Privacy Sandbox milestones”, Google explains that, even though the Privacy Sandbox initiative is making considerable progress, more time is needed to smooth the transition and to ensure the protection of “people’s privacy online and give companies and developers the tools to build thriving digital businesses”.
In brief, Google states it wants to move at a reasonable pace to “allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services”. The goal is also to make sure that cookies are not replaced with harmful alternatives such as fingerprinting.
The new timetable, under the monitoring of the CMA (Competition and Market Authority), is as follows:
- Late 2022 : a nine month phase giving time for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services. This phase will only start after cookieless ad methods in development are fully tested and deployed via APIs (Application Programming Interface).
- Mid 2023 : a three month period during which Google will “phase out support for third party cookies”.
Or a way to appease public opinion and governmental pressures ?
Lately, Google has clearly been under constant pressure, whether it be from the CMA or from the European Commission. However, Kate Kaye (in Digiday) believes the CMA requirement about Google’s commitment to adjust its “much maligned Privacy Sandbox approach” to be the direct cause of the delay.
Indeed, Google has a strong incentive to appease the CMA. If it commits to adjusting the Privacy Sandbox, the CMA would stop its investigation. The company has thus committed to the CMA not to favour its own systems and services through the development of the Privacy Sandbox nor to use “sensitive information provided by an ad tech provider or publisher to Chrome in a way that distorts competition.” The latter commitment should also appease the European commission regarding its reproach to Google’s leading and abusive position in the online advertising displays sector.
Is Google no longer untouchable ?
Whether it is for the sake of transparency or for strategic purposes, this setback from Google indicates a turning point : GAFAs are no longer untouchable.
 Goel, Vinay. “An Updated Timeline for Privacy Sandbox Milestones.” Google, Google, 24 June 2021, blog.google/products/chrome/updated-timeline-privacy-sandbox-milestones/.
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 Kaye, Kate. “Google Extends Cookie Execution Deadline until Late 2023, Will Pause FLoC Testing.” Digiday, 24 June 2021, digiday.com/marketing/cheat-sheet-google-extends-cookie-execution-deadline-until-late-2023-will-pause-floc-testing-in-july/.
Goel, Vinay. “An Updated Timeline for Privacy Sandbox Milestones.” Google, Google, 24 June 2021, blog.google/products/chrome/updated-timeline-privacy-sandbox-milestones/.
Kaye, Kate. “Google Extends Cookie Execution Deadline until Late 2023, Will Pause FLoC Testing.” Digiday, 24 June 2021, digiday.com/marketing/cheat-sheet-google-extends-cookie-execution-deadline-until-late-2023-will-pause-floc-testing-in-july/.
Shankland, Stephen. “Google Delays Chrome’s Cookie-Blocking Privacy Plan by Nearly 2 Years.” CNET, CNET, 24 June 2021, www.cnet.com/news/google-delays-chromes-cookie-blocking-privacy-plan-by-nearly-2-years/.