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Google gets Privacy Sandbox green light from UK’s CMA

Google has had its revised Privacy Sandbox commitments approved by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a little over a year after the UK government department opened an investigation into the tech giant over competition fears.

In November, Google provided the CMA with an updated list of commitments with the hope these would end the investigation into the possibility of the Privacy Sandbox giving Google an even stronger hold on the online advertising market and, in turn, limit publisher revenues.

Commitments accepted by the CMA include the organisation, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), being involved in the development and testing of the Privacy Sandbox proposals; Google having to engage with third parties during the testing process, and publish the test results; Google not scrapping third-party cookies until the CMA fully satisfied that its concerns have been addressed; a restriction on Google’s ability to share data within its ecosystem; and a ‘Monitoring Trustee’ being appointed to work with the CMA to ensure Google’s compliance with the commitments.

These commitments will now be actioned with immediate effect, but the CMA warns that it is willing to reopen its investigation “if necessary”.

“Our intervention in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting competition in digital markets and our global role in shaping the behaviour of world-leading tech firms,” said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive at the CMA. “The commitments we have obtained from Google will promote competition, help to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising and safeguard users’ privacy.

“While this is an important step, we are under no illusions that our work is done. We now move into a new phase where we will keep a close eye on Google as it continues to develop these proposals.

“We will engage with all market participants in this process, in order to ensure that Google is taking account of concerns and suggestions raised.”