UK regulator says Google’s ad-privacy changes fall short, WSJ reports

By Thomson Reuters Apr 18, 2024 | 10:51 PM

(Reuters) -The UK privacy regulator said Google’s proposed replacements for cookies need to do more to protect consumer privacy, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday, citing internal documents reviewed by them.

Google’s proposed technology, dubbed Privacy Sandbox, leaves gaps that can be exploited to undermine privacy and identify users who should be kept anonymous, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) wrote in a draft report, according to WSJ.

Privacy Sandbox is an initiative that aims to phase out support for third-party cookies and reduce cross-site and cross-app tracking while keeping online content free for all.

Google plans to completely phase out the use of third-party cookies for users in the second half of 2024.

The ICO is trying to get Google to make changes and share its concerns with UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), WSJ said. CMA, UK’s competition regulator, has promised to consider ICO’s recommendations as it evaluates Google’s plans, the report said.

“We’ve been closely engaging with the ICO, and other privacy and competition regulators globally, and will continue to do that to reach an outcome that works for users and the entire ecosystem,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

CMA has been investigating Google’s plan to cut support for some cookies in the Chrome browser because the watchdog is worried it will impede competition in digital advertising.

ICO and CMA did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

(Reporting by Devika Nair and Nilutpal Timsina in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema and Mrigank Dhaniwala)