LONDON — Britain’s competition watchdog said Friday it launched an investigation into Google’s plan to overhaul its ad data system over worries it could leave even less room for rivals in the online ad industry.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it opened a formal investigation into Google’s proposals to remove so-called third-party cookies from its popular Chrome browser and Chromium browser engine.
Cookies are small pieces of text kept on devices to keep track of user information such as the login name. They’re used to help businesses more effectively target advertising and fund free online content such as newspapers, but they can also be used to track users across the internet.
Google has proposed replacing third-party cookies with its own tools, as part of a “privacy sandbox” set to be rolled out in 2022. But the watchdog said the changes could hurt publishers’ ability to make money as well as undermine digital ad competition, entrenching Google’s market power.
Chrome is the world’s dominant web browser, and many others like Microsoft’s Edge are based on Google’s Chromium technology.