German media publishers petition EU competition chief against new Google cookie policy
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German media publishers petition EU competition chief against new Google cookie policy

The Financial Times reported Monday that hundreds of German publishers, advertisers and media and industry groups have submitted a 108-page complaint to the European Union’s Commissioner for Competition, arguing that Google’s plan to replace third party cookies with alternatives for ad tracking breaches EU competition law.

They are concerned that this action will critically impact advertisers, publishers and intermediaries, who will no longer be able to track users’ preferences and lose a significant amount of ad revenue. According to a report by the UK’s competition watchdog, which has been investigating Google’s proposals to remove third party cookies since last year, such changes by Google could result in online publishers losing up to 70% of their revenue. EU officials have already expressed concerns that Google is abusing its high-bargaining position to gain an unfair advantage over its competitors, most recently leading to a €2.42bn fine last November by the EU General Court.

The complaint sent on Monday asks that publishers “remain in a position where they are allowed to ask their users for consent to process data, without Google capturing this decision” and that “Google must respect the relationship between publishers and users without interfering.” Google told Financial Times that most browsers are already stepping away from third-party cookies and that the company will implement its new cookie policy “in consultation with technical standards bodies, regulators, and the industry, while also proposing new, alternative technologies.”

Earlier this month, the French data protection authority fined Google €210M after finding that its cookie usage policy violates the General Data Protection Regulation and French data protection law. The German competition authority found that Google has cross-market significance and subjected it to the country’s new abuse control law. In the US, Google is being sued by a coalition of state attorneys for allegedly colluding with Facebook to manipulate programmatic ad markets.