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German firms claim Google Chrome blocking cookies is illegal

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Google Chrome's much-delayed blocking of third-party cookies is now under fire from German publishers and advertisers, who say it will break EU laws.

In 2020, Apple's Safari began blocking third-party cookies, beating Google's plan for Chrome by two years. Then Google postponed the move until 2023, saying "it's become clear that more time is needed across the ecosystem to get this right."

Now according to the Financial Times, hundreds of publishers, advertisers and media groups in Germany have asked the EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager to intervene. The country's Axel Springer, publisher of Politico, has lead a 108-page complaint to the EU, seen by the publication.

"Publishers must remain in a position where they are allowed to ask their users for consent to process data, without Google capturing this decision," says the complaint. "Google must respect the relationship between publishers and users without interfering."

Google's privacy sandbox plan for its Chrome browser, is intended to protect users by ending third-party cookies and replacing them with other forms of ad delivery tools.

"Many other platforms and browsers have already stopped supporting third-party cookies," a Google spokesperson told the Financial Times, "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."

Separately, Google has reportedly stepped up its lobbing of the EU over its proposals to curb Big Tech with its Digital Markets Act.