Google has agreed not to kill off third-party cookies without first getting sign off from the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority, the company said Friday. The CMA has been investigating whether Google's so-called Privacy Sandbox plans are actually anticompetitive. As part of the investigation, Google and the CMA settled on a set of final commitments that give the CMA and the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office sweeping oversight authority over future changes to Google's ad system.
"Our intervention in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting competition in digital markets and our global role in shaping the behaviour of world-leading tech firms," the CMA's CEO Andrea Coscelli said in a statement.
Ever since the company announced it was killing off third-party cookies, the advertising industry has accused Google of trying to hoard precious targeting data for itself, while cutting off access to competitors. One ad tech executive in particular, James Rosewell, filed a complaint with the CMA arguing as much. In a statement on the decision, Rosewell called it "the start of a journey toward more public oversight of big tech promises."
But for privacy advocates, it's also constitutes a setback, as the regulatory oversight will undoubtedly slow down Google's timeline with regard to killing off a type of tracking that many have come to view as exploitative. Google has already pushed back its deadline for killing off cookies multiple times, and even killed off its cookie replacement, FLoC, last month.
"We believe that these commitments will ensure that competition continues to thrive while providing flexibility in designing the Privacy Sandbox APIs in a way that will improve peoples’ privacy online," Google wrote in a blog post.