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14 February 2022
Regulators approve Google post-cookie approach
Advertising regulationGDPR & privacy lawGoogle
A major question mark had surrounded Google’s Privacy Sandbox, the suite of tools and techniques that are intended to succeed the third party cookie; the UK’s competition regulator had been concerned that its proposals had the potential to harm competition and advantage Google’s ad business – the approval marks an important onward step for Google’s plans.
But it also points to a new phase of regulation. One in which authorities are more active and willing to intervene in a development phase of technology rather than after the fact, and potentially after the harm has been done.
What’s going on
Beginning in Jan 2021, the CMA’s investigation looked into whether Google’s plans would damage both consumers (by making ad costs that pass onto consumers higher) and publishers whose visibility over audience and an ability to measure ads could be damaged. Google also announced the changes in a blog post.
Now, the CMA has secured legally binding commitments from the search firm.
Google will not remove third-party cookies until the CMA is satisfied that its competition concerns have been addressed.
The CMA and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will be involved in Privacy Sandbox proposals to ensure they achieve effective outcomes for consumers to protect both competition and privacy.
Google has agreed to a more transparent process – engaging third parties, sharing test results. The CMA can require Google to address issues it or third parties raise.
Google has committed to restrict data sharing within its ecosystem so it does not advantage its own services once cookies are removed.