What you need to know
- A multi-state lawsuit against Google's advertising tech has been amended to aim at Chrome's privacy sandbox.
- Five more attorneys general have joined the lawsuit, taking the total to fifteen.
- The lawsuit accuses Google of trying to force advertisers to shift to its platform with the changes to ad tracking in Chrome.
In December last year, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton announced a multi-state lawsuit against Google for engaging in anti-competitive practices. The lawsuit has now been amended to target Google's proposed changes to ad tracking in Chrome, which is not just one of the best Android browsers, but also the most popular desktop browser by market share. It alleges that Google's 'privacy sandbox' is "in essence, to wall off the entire portion of the internet that consumers access through Chrome browser."
Responding to the new allegations, a Google representative told The Verge:
Attorney General Paxton's latest claims mischaracterize many aspects of our business, including the steps we are taking with the Privacy Sandbox initiative to protect people's privacy as they browse the web. These efforts have been welcomed by privacy advocates, advertisers and our own rivals as a step forward in preserving user privacy and protecting free content. We will strongly defend ourselves from AG Paxton's baseless claims in court.
Once Google phases out support for third-party cookies, the search giant will switch to "privacy-preserving APIs" that promise to deliver great results for advertisers while maintaining the privacy of users. The attorneys general, however, claim that the proposed changes are anti-competitive as "they raise barriers to entry and exclude competition in the exchange and ad buying tool markets." They allege that the changes will force advertisers to shift to Google's platform, which will end up hurting smaller publishers.
As announced in January, the UK is also probing Google's plan to eliminate support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser over concerns that the changes could restrict rival digital advertising platforms.