Google’s decision to phase out cookies has caused a lot of controversy and concern – and following regulatory pressure, the search engine company has delayed the elimination of cookies until 2023.
In a blog post published on Thursday, Google’s Privacy Engineering Director Vinay Goel revealed the company’s “new timeline,” indicating that support for cookies would begin to phase out at the end of 2023.
A ‘cookie’ is a digital tool that stores user data on websites. Third-party cookies are often created by advertising companies and track users to bring them targeted ads.
When Google announced the plan to phase out third-party cookies, they argued that the decision would benefit users’ privacy.
“If digital advertising doesn’t evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web,” wrote David Temkin, Google’s director of product management in a blog post earlier this year.
However, the decision was met with backlash from third-party companies and regulators. A blog post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation argued that Google’s replacement for third-party cookies will violate privacy similarly, but in a way that prioritizes Google’s business interests.
Regulatory bodies also raised eyebrows over the decision.
Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigated the decision this month – and as a result, the window to phase out cookies was delayed from January 2022 to late 2023.
“If the commitments are accepted they become legally binding, promoting competition in digital markets, helping to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising and safeguarding users’ privacy,” a spokesperson said.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the European Union’s competition commission also investigated the issue.
The decision to delay the removal of cookies won’t cause the debate to die down. Google’s competitors, critics, and regulatory bodies will likely continue to investigate whether or not the move will truly protect users’ privacy, or simply give Google a competitive edge.