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Google improves on Privacy Sandbox pledges to satisfy competition regulator

Google has revised its ‘Privacy Sandbox’ commitments to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), after it was deemed the tech giant’s initial pledges didn’t quite hit the mark earlier this year.

Google made the commitments in response to the government department opening up an investigation into Google’s post-third-party cookie plans over fears it would give Google a tighter grip on the digital advertising market it already dominates. This also led Google to delay the deprecation of its Chrome third-party cookies until 2023.

“We have always been clear that Google’s efforts to protect user’s privacy cannot come at the cost of reduced competition,” said Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief Executive.

“That’s why we have worked with the Information Commissioner’s Office, the CMA’s international counterparts and parties across this sector throughout this process to secure an outcome that works for everyone.”

Updates that Google has made to its commitments include offering to appoint an independent, CMA-approved ‘Monitoring Trustee’ to ensure Google’s compliance; being more transparent about market feedback on the Privacy Sandbox proposals; being clearer on the company’s use of data; and ensuring that the CMA’s role is mentioned in Google’s key public announcements; among other things.

The CMA has provisionally said that Google’s revised offer allays its competition concerns, so it will now consult on the commitments until mid-December. If the CMA is still happy by then, it will close its investigation into Google’s Privacy Sandbox.

“We welcome Google’s co-operation and are grateful to all the interested parties who engaged with us during the consultation,” said Coscelli.

“If accepted, the commitments we have obtained from Google become legally binding, promoting competition in digital markets, helping to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising and safeguarding users’ privacy.”