The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has managed to secure a number of commitments from Google on the development of its alternatives for the replacement of third-party cookies in the Chrome web browser.
The commitments announced by the CMA on Friday, and subject to public comment until July 8 before becoming final, would see Google involve the regulator in the development of the Privacy Sandbox, which is proposed as an alternative to current web tracking technologies.
The CMA has already expressed displeasure on another of Google’s potential alternatives to third-party cookies, known as FLoC, which is currently being tested among a minority of Chrome users, saying it could give Google an edge over rivals.
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In a statement responding to the CMA's announcement, Google's director of legal, Oliver Bethell, said the company “welcomed the opportunity to engage with a regulator.”
The latest announcement from CMA comes following the launch of an investigation into Privacy Sandbox at the beginning of 2021, following complaints from businesses that feared Google’s proposals could impede competition in the digital advertising space.
“The emergence of tech giants such as Google has presented competition authorities around the world with new challenges that require a new approach,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.
She added that this has forced the CMA to take a “leading role” and define a benchmark of sorts of regulators working with tech firms to “shape their behavior and protect competition to the benefit of consumers.”
However, Tim Cowen, chair of the antitrust practice at law firm Preiskel & Co, told Reuters that CMA must exercise caution and due diligence.
"If the CMA is offered undertakings they need to look at them very closely - ensure they are practically useful - and change Google's behavior," advised Cowen.
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