When Google announced it would phase out cookies in its Chrome browser last year, many excitedly thought the decision would be good for user privacy. However, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating the decision to determine whether it unfairly hurts competitors, Reuters has reported.
In 2020, Google announced that third-party cookies would no longer be tracked in the Chrome browser starting some time within the following two years. As a result, third-party companies would not be able to collect or use users’ data. Some had anticipated this decision, as other browsers like Firefox and Safari already block third-party cookies by default.
Google’s announcement, posted by Chrome Engineering Director Justin Schuh, said “our goal for this open source initiative is to make the web more private and secure for users, while also supporting publishers.”
The announcement earned a mixed reaction from the web industry: some felt that the decision was fair and inevitable, while others expressed disappointment, saying that the decision would benefit Google while hurting digital companies and rival search engines.
Critics of the decision are not alone: the U.S. Department of Justice is now monitoring the situation to see if Google is acting unfairly. According to insiders who spoke to Reuters, DOJ investigators are checking to see if Google’s decision illegally hurts competitors – specifically by preventing advertisers from tracking users while leaving loopholes for Google to keep gathering data through its own cookies.
It is not yet known if the investigation will lead to legal action being taken. Either way, the outcome will leave a massive imprint on the search industry and on web privacy as a whole.