CMA launches consultation on modified Privacy Sandbox commitments

Posted on: Friday 26 November 2021 | IAB UK

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced a second public consultation on its intention to accept the modified commitments from Google

Following what it describes as “improved commitments” from Google regarding Privacy Sandbox, the CMA has published a notice of intention to accept the modified commitments and has opened a second public consultation on them, which will close at 5pm on Friday 17 December 2021. 

The CMA’s provisional view is that the modified commitments address its concerns and “provide a robust basis for the CMA, ICO and third parties to influence the future development of the Privacy Sandbox Proposals to ensure that the purpose of the commitments is achieved”. 

Privacy Sandbox is Google’s initiative to develop a privacy-friendly alternative to third-party cookies, which are due to be phased out on Chrome in 2023.  The CMA launched its investigation into Privacy Sandbox at the start of the year, out of concern that “Google’s alternatives could be developed and implemented in ways that impede competition in digital advertising markets”. Google welcomed this development, describing it as an “opportunity to engage with a regulator with the mandate to promote competition for the benefit of consumers”.

The first consultation, launched In June 2021, saw the industry respond to a range of binding commitments that Google put forward to address the CMA’s concerns. The CMA says that over 40 third parties responded, with suggestions that the commitments should be strengthened in a number of areas such as improving transparency with the industry and bolstering the monitoring of Google's compliance. As a result, Google has now offered to take the following steps, which the CMA has provisionally said addresses its concerns: 

  • Ensure that the CMA’s role and the ongoing CMA process are mentioned in Google’s key public announcements
  • Instruct its staff not to make claims to customers which contradict the commitments
  • Report regularly to the CMA on how Google has taken account of third-party views
  • Address concerns about Google removing functionality or information before the full Privacy Sandbox changes, including by delaying enforcement of its Privacy Budget proposal, and offering commitments around the introduction of measures to reduce access to IP addresses
  • Clarify the internal limits on the data that Google can use
  • Provide greater certainty to third parties developing alternative technologies
  • Improve the provisions on reporting and compliance, including by appointing a CMA-approved monitoring trustee
  • Provide for a longer duration of 6 years from the date of any decision to accept Google’s modified commitments

    You can respond to the consultation here by 5pm on Friday 17 December 2021. 

Written by

IAB UK

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