CMA accepts Google’s revised Privacy Sandbox commitments

Posted on: Friday 11 February 2022 | IAB UK

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that Google’s revised package of commitments to address competition concerns over Privacy Sandbox have been accepted

The CMA’s decision to accept Google’s revised commitments follows a year-long investigation into concerns that proposals put forward by Privacy Sandbox - which is working to develop alternative identity solutions to third-party cookies - could weaken competition within the digital ecosystem. 

Since the investigation was launched in January 2021, the CMA has been working closely with Google and the rest of the market to understand how its concerns can be addressed. Following two public consultations and a revised set of commitments from Google, the CMA has accepted the new proposals and Google has said that they will be rolled out globally. 

This decision brings the investigation to a close,and the CMA states that it is working closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to oversee the development of the proposals, so that they protect privacy without unduly restricting competition and harming consumers.

 

Google’s commitments include: 

  • Involvement of the CMA and the ICO in the development and testing of the Privacy Sandbox proposals, to ensure they achieve effective outcomes for consumers to protect both competition and privacy
  • Google will engage in a more transparent process than initially proposed, including engagement with third parties and publishing test results, with the option for the CMA to require Google to address issues raised by the CMA or third parties
  • Google will not remove third-party cookies until the CMA is satisfied that its competition concerns have been addressed. If the CMA is not satisfied that its competition concerns have been addressed, the CMA may take further action (i.e. re-open its investigation, impose interim measures or proceed to a decision)
  • Commitments to restrict the sharing of data within its ecosystem to ensure that it doesn’t gain an advantage over competitors when third-party cookies are removed; and commitments to not self-preference its advertising services
  • A Monitoring Trustee will be appointed to work alongside the CMA to ensure the commitments are monitored effectively and Google complies with its obligations. This appointment is expected to be made shortly

 

You can find a full list of the commitments here. Commenting on the decision, the CMA’s Chief Executive, Andrea Coscelli, said: “The commitments we have obtained from Google will promote competition, help to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising and safeguard users’ privacy.

While this is an important step, we are under no illusions that our work is done. We now move into a new phase where we will keep a close eye on Google as it continues to develop these proposals. We will engage with all market participants in this process, in order to ensure that Google is taking account of concerns and suggestions raised.” 

Google has published a blog post, explaining that its commitments address the CMA’s concerns in three main principles: “First, the changes we will make in Chrome in the context of the Privacy Sandbox initiative will apply in the same way to Google’s advertising products as to products from other companies. Second, we will design, develop and implement Privacy Sandbox with regulatory oversight and input from the CMA and the ICO. And third, we will inform the CMA in advance of our intention to remove third-party cookies and agree to wait for their feedback on whether any competition law concerns remain.” 

Read the full blog post for further detail on the commitments and how Google will continue to work with the CMA. Google has also laid out further detail on how it will be engaging with third-parties here.

Written by

IAB UK

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