October 22, 2021

UK market watchdog begins investigation into Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative

British authorities will investigate Google’s plan to block third-party cookies. The trade watchdog in the country is going to see if Google does not get a lot of ad revenue as a result. The investigation comes after complaints from the ad industry.

UK And EU Watchdogs Launch Probes Into Google Privacy Policy

The study is being conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority or CMA in the United Kingdom. That announced the investigation Friday . The CMA is specifically looking at a new program from Google called Privacy Sandbox. Google already announced this in 2019 .

Privacy Sandbox consists of several parts, such as an API that can measure conversion. Google says the goal of that program is to “create a secure personalization environment that protects users’ privacy.” As a result, Google wants to remove all support for third-party cookies from Chrome and Chromium software by 2022 .

The British CMA is now investigating whether that will lead to even more ad spend being made directly to Google. The agency previously conducted a preliminary investigation and concluded that there were possible risks to Google’s plan. This could potentially make it harder for publishers to make a profit and Google could gain a dominant position in the advertising market.

The regulator has previously spoken with, among others, the privacy watchdog in the UK to see how companies like Google can address privacy concerns without disrupting the market. We also spoke with Google. Google has not yet finalized its plans for Privacy Sandbox and the CMA sees the current investigation as a continuation of those discussions with the tech giant. “The current research should provide a framework for continuing this work and potentially build a legal basis for a possible solution.”

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The watchdog carries out the investigation mainly after complaints from the interest group Marketers for an Open Web. That is a group of newspaper publishers who fear that Google is using Privacy Sandbox to increase its power.

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Google confirms to Engadget that it is working with the CMA for the investigation. “The industry must make major changes to digital advertising if it is to make the web more private while supporting the free and open internet,” the company said.