April 11, 2021

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, SEO, Wordpress Support & Insurance, Mortgage, Loans, Legal, Etc Blogs

Google’s Upcoming Cookie Block Reportedly Attracts U.S. Regulatory Attention As Competitors Complain They Cannot Track Users

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Topline

Google’s plan to block online tracking tools on its Chrome web browser has reportedly caught the eyes of the U.S. competition watchdog after the tech giant’s advertising rivals complained they will no longer be able to collect data on web users—the investigation adds to Google’s mounting antitrust woes at home and abroad as regulators seek to grapple with the power of large tech companies.  

Key Facts

Investigators from the Department of Justice—which already has an antitrust probe into the company—have been asking advertising executives whether Google’s decision to remove third-party tracking tools (known as cookies) from its popular Chrome browser will unfairly hinder their ability to conduct business, Reuters reported Thursday.  

Investigators are reportedly asking whether Google is using Chrome’s 60% global market share to gain an unfair advantage over its rivals in the online advertising space, where it is also a dominant player.  

Google’s ad rivals are concerned the company could pursue other avenues of data collection while using privacy to justify closing methods open to competitors.

Executives from more than a dozen companies in a number of sectors have spoken with investigators, Reuters reports, noting that the inquiry may not lead to legal action.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Key Background 

This report sits within a wider landscape of antitrust investigations going on around the world aimed at curbing the power of some of the tech world’s largest players. Online advertising is at the very heart of the digital economy and its reliance on invasive data collection is fast becoming a flash point as privacy considerations move to center stage. Google’s critics dismiss the company’s apparent beneficence when it comes to protecting user privacy, accusing them of weaponizing it for their own gain. Apple, one of the leading big tech players when it comes to privacy reform, scored a victory this week when a French regulator said it would not intervene in its plans to restrict tracking “just because there might be a negative impact for companies in the ecosystem.”  

What To Watch For

The U.K.’s competition watchdog is also investigating Google over the pending Chrome changes. Texas also added the Chrome changes to an ongoing antitrust suit it and 14 other states and territories levelled against Google for trying to “wall off” the open internet with its popular browser. 

Crucial Quote

“There is a weaponization of privacy to justify business decisions that consolidate power to their business and disadvantage the broader marketplace,” CEO of data broker Acxiom Chad Engelgau said according to Reuters.

Further Reading

Exclusive: Google’s privacy push draws U.S. antitrust scrutiny – sources (Reuters)

Google’s Move Away From Individual Web Tracking Signals Another Shift For Digital Advertising (Forbes)

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