Google assures the UK's CMA its Privacy Sandbox won't hamper competition

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What you need to know

  • The UK's Competition and Markets Authority secured new commitments from Google regarding its Privacy Sandbox proposals.
  • These commitments will ensure that the search giant does not take advantage of loopholes in the Privacy Sandbox.
  • Google also promised to apply the changes it will make to Chrome to its advertising products in the same way it does to third-party products.

Google has made several changes to its earlier commitments regarding its Privacy Sandbox proposals, including giving the UK's Competition and Markets Authority a larger role and oversight of its plan to remove third-party cookies from Chrome.

In a blog post, Google said these revisions "underline our commitment to ensuring that the changes we make in Chrome will apply in the same way to Google's ad tech products as to any third party." The revised commitments also allow the CMA and Information Commissioner's Office to oversee and guide the development and design of the Privacy Sandbox APIs.

The most recent set of commitments builds on Google's previous proposals, which detailed how it would transition away from tracking cookies on laptops and mobile devices, including Android phones. The CMA launched a market consultation on those proposals in June, with the goal of ensuring fair competition in digital advertising markets.

Those commitments have now been expanded with a few changes. In a nutshell, the revised commitments are intended to reassure regulators that Google will not have backdoor access to the Privacy Sandbox, which could be exploited to gain an unfair advantage. Google has agreed to appoint a CMA-approved monitoring trustee in order to accomplish this. The new commitments also include stronger self-preferencing restrictions, as well as clarifications on the internal limits on the data Google can access, which will be monitored by the trustee.

The search giant also offered to "ensure that the CMA's role and the ongoing CMA process are mentioned in Google's key public announcements." Another requirement is that Google instruct its employees not to make claims to customers that contradict the commitments, according to the CMA.

Google has also agreed to postpone the implementation of its Privacy Budget proposal in order to "address concerns about Google removing functionality or information before the full Privacy Sandbox changes." The period of CMA oversight has also been extended to six years "from the date of any decision to accept Google's modified commitments," up from around five years previously.

The CMA is now set to gather feedback on the expanded set of commitments until 5pm on December 17. Google vows to apply these commitments globally if the CMA accepts them, just like the first set.

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Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.