Google Chrome Privacy Plan Faces U.K. Competition Probe

U.K. antitrust officials are investigating whether Google’s plan to remove some user-tracking tools from its Chrome browser could hurt competition in the online-advertising industry.

The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority said it has opened a formal probe into Google’s plan for Chrome to end support next year of a technology called third-party cookies, which many companies use to track individuals’ browsing habits across multiple websites.

The investigation will examine whether Google’s plan—which hasn’t yet been finalized—could cause advertisers to shift spending to Google’s set of online-ad tools at the expense of its competitors, the CMA said. The regulator said it has an open mind and hasn’t determined whether or not any laws have been broken.

Third-party cookies offer data that can be valuable to advertisers for the purpose of targeting ads, but have long raised privacy concerns, leading Google to announce last year that it would stop using them in 2022.

“We welcome the CMA’s involvement as we work to develop new proposals to underpin a healthy, ad-supported web without third-party cookies,” a Google spokeswoman said Friday.

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