German Publishers Reportedly Urge EU To Prohibit Google From Blocking Cookies

German publishing giant Axel Springer, along with other advertisers and publishers in that country, reportedly have asked regulators in Europe to prevent Google from configuring the Chrome browser to block third-party cookies.

The publishers and advertisers argued in a 108-page complaint that the planned cookie-blocking setting will harm their businesses, according to a report Monday in the Financial Times.

A Google spokesperson says: “People want a more private, secure web and we've proposed ideas to help build it with new digital advertising tools to protect privacy and prevent covert tracking, while supporting a thriving ad-funded open web.”

Other browser developers already prevent ad-tech companies from setting cookies. Apple's Safari browser has blocked third-party cookies by default since 2005, and Mozilla's Firefox browser has done so since 2019.  

Google's original plan was to roll out third-party cookie-blocking some time this year.

Privacy advocates welcomed the planned change, but the ad industry urged Google to reverse course.

The Association of National Advertisers and American Association of Advertising Agencies made an argument to Google last January that blocking cookies could "choke off the economic oxygen from advertising that startups and emerging companies need to survive."

Some state attorneys general also expressed disapproval, alleging in an antitrust lawsuit that the cookie-blocking plan is anticompetitive, given that Google will still have access to data about Chrome users' web-browsing histories.

Last year, Google announced it was postponing the plan until late 2023, in order to “allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services.

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