CMA will keep a close eye on Google as it secures Privacy Sandbox final commitments

  • CMA has obtained legally binding commitments from Google to address competition concerns over its privacy sandbox

  • CMA is now moving into the next phase where it will oversee Google to ensure the Privacy Sandbox is developed in a way that benefits consumers.

The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) competition inquiry was launched in January 2021 over concerns that the proposals could lead to an even greater concentration of online advertising spending on Google, weakening competition and thereby harming consumers who end up paying the cost of online advertising. The CMA was also concerned that the proposals would compromise the ability of online publishers, such as newspapers, to generate revenue and continue to produce valuable content in the future – thereby reducing the public’s choice of sources. of information.

The Final Commitments accepted by the CMA today are the result of extensive investigation and engagement with Google and market participants, including 2 formal public consultations. They address the CMA’s competition concerns, and Google has also said the commitments will be rolled out globally.

The CMA is working closely with the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) to oversee the development of the proposals, so that they protect privacy without unduly restricting competition and harming consumers.

You can read the full list of commitments, but they include:

  • Involvement of the CMA and ICO in the development and testing of Privacy Sandbox proposals, to ensure they achieve effective results for consumers to protect both competition and privacy;

  • Google will engage in a more transparent process than originally proposed, including engagement with third parties and publication of test results, with the ability for the CMA to require Google to address issues raised by the CMA or third ;

  • Google will not remove third-party cookies until the AMC is satisfied that its competition concerns have been resolved. If the CMA is not satisfied that its competition concerns have been resolved, it may take further action (ie reopen its investigation, impose interim measures or make a decision);

  • Commitments to restrict data sharing within its ecosystem to ensure it does not gain an advantage over competitors when third-party cookies are removed; and commitments not to favor its advertising services;

  • A monitoring administrator will be appointed to work alongside the CMA to ensure that engagements are effectively monitored and that Google meets its obligations. This appointment should take place soon.

Google published a blog post today on its obligations under the Commitments and on the next phase of development of the Privacy Sandbox.

Google has provided more details on the process it will follow to engage with third parties.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA Executive Director, said:

Our intervention in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting competition in digital markets and our global role in shaping the behavior of cutting-edge technology companies.

The commitments we have secured from Google will promote competition, help protect online publishers’ ability to raise money through advertising, and protect user privacy.

Although this is an important step, we are under no illusions that our work is done. We are now entering a new phase where we will be keeping a close eye on Google as it continues to develop these proposals.

We will work with all market participants in this process, to ensure that Google takes into account the concerns and suggestions raised.

The CMA has secured a series of mechanisms in the Commitments that are designed to hold Google to account.

These include:

  • CMA oversight of third-party cookie replacement test design and other Privacy Sandbox proposals

  • A waiting period of at least 60 days before Google removes third-party cookies, during which the CMA and Google will work to resolve any remaining competition concerns

  • A mechanism for Google to promptly resolve concerns raised by the AMC.

The CMA can reopen its investigation into the Competition Act 1998 and impose interim measures in the future if necessary.

The commitments will expire six years from 11 February 2022 unless released at an earlier date in accordance with section 31A(4) of the Competition Act 1998.

Notes to Editors

  1. More information is available on the case page for “Investigation into Google’s ‘Privacy Sandbox’ browser changes”.

  2. This is further evidence of the collaborative partnership between the CMA and the ICO, and the close relationship between competition interests and data protection. The ICO and the CMA released a joint statement on the relationship between competition objectives and data protection in May 2021. In its decision released today, the CMA clarified how it intends to consult the ICO on certain aspects of the proposals. relating to data protection. On November 25, 2021, the ICO published a notice which refers to the CMA investigation

  3. The government has proposed to create, within the CMA, a statutory Digital Markets Unit (DMU) to oversee a new regulatory regime for the most powerful digital companies, to promote increased competition and innovation in these markets and to protect consumers and businesses against unfair practices. The government is currently analyzing responses to a consultation on the powers of the DMU. While the role of monitoring the implementation of any commitments would rest with the CMA during their duration, in the medium term, the establishment of the DMU could provide an appropriate framework for regulatory oversight and control.

  4. The CMA does not intend to publish the responses to the consultations, but the information contained in the responses was summarized anonymously in the decision.

  5. For media enquiries, contact the CMA Press Office on 020 3738 6460 or [email protected]

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