Friday 8 January 2021 1:21 pm

CMA to investigate Google over anti-competitive 'Sandbox' behaviour

The competition watchdog has launched an investigation into alleged anti-competitive behaviour following proposed changes to its so-called ‘Privacy Sandbox’.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) probe was launched following a string of complaints, including from the Marketers for an Open Web group, which argue Google is abusing its market power.

“Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals will potentially have a very significant impact on publishers like newspapers, and the digital advertising market,” explained CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.

“There are also privacy concerns to consider, which is why we will continue to work with the ICO as we progress this investigation,” Coscelli added.

In a recent market study, the CMA outlined concerns over Google’s digital impact, where it could undermine revenue for publishers and crush digital advertising competition.

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The details

The CMA will investigate announced changes to Google’s ‘Privacy Sandbox’ project which would allow them to remove third-party cookies on Google browsers and replace them with new tools for targeting advertising.

Google’s proposal could see advertising expenses become more concentrated on the Google ecosystem. Concerns over privacy and the legality of third-party cookies have been voiced, as they track consumer behaviours in ways most consumers do not understand.

The CMA said it plans to work alongside the ICO to ensure that Google’s proposals do not distort healthy competition but have not yet reached a conclusion on whether competition law has been infringed.

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