German Publishers Run Crying to E.U. Regulators Over Google’s Plan to Remove Third-Party Cookies From Chrome

Javier Espinoza, reporting for The Financial Times:

Google is facing a fresh complaint from Germany’s largest publishers and advertisers, which are demanding that the EU intervene over the search giant’s plan to stop the use of third-party cookies. Axel Springer, the publisher of titles such as Bild and Politico, is among the hundreds of publishers, advertisers and media groups that have argued to the bloc’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, that Google is breaking EU law with its move to phase out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by next year.

What a pile of horseshit. Third-party cookies have proven to be a privacy disaster and other major browsers have already removed support for them — including Safari, Firefox, and Brave. Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world and thus the biggest holdout, and these clowns want the EU’s regulators — a group that would have us believe it is concerned foremost with consumers — to force Google to keep third-party cookie support enabled in Chrome. If the EU doesn’t toss this case out, it’s a joke.

The decision blocks advertisers, publishers and intermediaries from analysing users’ preferences while they browse online content — a critical blow to how the industry generates revenues.

This editorializing from the FT is simply wrong. Publishers aren’t third parties, so they’re free to analyze users’ preferences while those users are on the publishers’ own sites. But what they’re asking for here is for the EU to force Google to allow them to keep “analyzing users’ preferences” while users are anywhere and everywhere else on the web. Just because publishers have been able to profit from surveillance advertising doesn’t mean they have any entitlement whatsoever to keep profiting from it. As I quipped last year, it’s like pawn shops suing to keep the police from cracking down on a wave of burglaries.

“Publishers must remain in a position where they are allowed to ask their users for consent to process data, without Google capturing this decision. Google must respect the relationship between publishers and users without interfering,” said the document, which was also sent to the EU’s powerful competition unit.

Publishers aren’t third parties, so publishers are free to use their own cookies.

Google said: “Many other platforms and browsers have already stopped supporting third-party cookies but Google is the only one to do this openly and in consultation with technical standards bodies, regulators, and the industry, while also proposing new, alternative technologies.”


Tuesday, 25 January 2022