As part of a UK competition regulator’s ongoing antitrust investigation into Google’s privacy sandbox, ad tech giants have expanded their commitment to monitoring planned transitions from cookie tracking. Regulators announced today that they have agreed.
Google has also published its own blog post on revisions.It aims to highlight Google’s efforts to ensure that changes made in Chrome apply to Google’s ad tech products in the same way as third parties. The Privacy Sandbox API is regulated. Designed, developed and implemented based on monitoring and input from CMA [Competition and Markets Authority] And ICO [Information Commissioner’s Office]”.
In 2019, Google announced its intention to remove support for third-party tracking cookies used to target personal ads in the Chrome browser. We’re also working on an unobtrusive alternative ad targeting stack. Since then, technology (also known as the “privacy sandbox”).
The basic idea is to put Internet users into interest-based buckets from personally targeted advertising (which is scary to the privacy of Internet users), and so-called user “cohorts” (also known as FloC) get in the way of individuals. It may not be, but it’s important to note that Google’s proposed alternatives still have a lot of critics (for example, EFF amplifies issues such as discrimination and predatory ad targeting. It even suggests a possibility).
Many privacy advocates also argue that pure content targets provide the ability to reach and monetize content to advertiser-related audiences and publishers while minimizing the risk to Internet users’ rights. To do.
Google’s sandbox program has attracted the greatest counterattacks from advertisers and publishers directly affected by the change. Some have expressed concern that the move away from cookie tracking will only increase Google’s market power. Therefore, the Competitive Markets Authority (CMA) began investigating antitrust laws in January.
As part of that investigation, CMA had already secured a set of commitments from Google on how the switch would take place. This includes agreeing to stop the move to abolish cookies if regulators are not satisfied with the potential migration. How to respect both competition and privacy. Above all, an agreement on self-priority.
In the market talks on an early set of commitments, as TechCrunch understands, it’s from international regulators (also investigating Google’s sandboxes, such as the European Commission, which launched Google’s own investigation). We received responses from over 40 third parties, including comments. June adtech).
Since then, the first set of proposed commitments has been expanded and additional requirements have been strengthened (see below for a summary, for more information from the CMA’s Notice of Intention to Accept Changed Commitments”. See here).
CMA will discuss the expanded set — receive fresh feedback on the deadline of 5 pm on December 17, 2021.
Second, whether the enhanced bundle can be well checked and balanced, allowing Google to move away from cookie tracking, minimize its impact on competition, and minimize its harm to user privacy. (However, the UK ICO is ultimately responsible for monitoring the latter part).
If the CMA is happy to respond to the revised commitment, the CMA will end the investigation and a new phase of active monitoring, as detailed in the content of the proposed agreement with Google. Move to.
The timeline in which this can occur is early 2022, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Andrea Coscelli, CEO of CMA, commented in a statement:
“Google’s efforts to protect user privacy have always made it clear that it cannot be achieved at the expense of intensifying competition.
Therefore, throughout this process, we have worked with the Information Commissioner’s Office, CMA’s international counterparts, and stakeholders throughout this sector to ensure results that are useful to everyone.
We welcome Google’s cooperation and thank all the stakeholders involved with us during the talks.
If approved, the commitments obtained from Google are legally binding, help promote competition in the digital market, protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising, and protect user privacy. increase. “
More market peace of mind
In general, extended commitments provide a higher level of reassurance that Google cannot exploit sandbox regulatory loopholes to undo its intended effect of addressing competitive risks and privacy concerns. It is intended to be offered to the market.
In particular, Google has agreed to appoint a CMA-approved monitoring trustee. This is one of the additional measures that we are proposing to improve our reporting and compliance regulations.
It also dials up reporting requirements and confirms that the role of the CMA and the ongoing process of the regulatory agency (the CMA currently proposes to continue for six years) are listed in the “Major Announcement”. I agree with you. We will also report to the CMA on a regular (quarterly) basis on how we consider third-party views as we continue to build technology bundles.
Testing transparency has also been enhanced.
On top of that, for example, Google staff may not be fully prepared to clearly inform the market of feedback details related to the Origin Trial of FloCs technology. Therefore, it’s worth noting that in another highlighted change, Google needs to instruct its staff not to charge customers against their commitment.
Another concern reflected in the revision is the concern that Google market participants will remove features and information before the full privacy sandbox changes are implemented. Therefore, we propose to delay the implementation of the privacy budget proposal and IP address.
Understand that concerns from market participants also cover Google’s removal of other features such as user agent strings, and that the enhanced efforts are aimed at addressing those broader concerns as well. doing.
Self-priority requirements have also been dialed up. The revised commitment also includes clarification of internal restrictions on the data that Google can use. Monitoring these factors is an important focus for the trustee.
The active monitoring period by the CMA has also been extended compared to previous plans. It has been extended to 6 years from the date of the decision to accept Google’s changed commitment (from about 5 years).
This means that if the CMA agrees to next year’s commitment, it could be implemented until 2028. And by then, Britain is hoping to reform the competition rules that surround tech giants.
In its own blog post, Google summarizes its revised commitment as follows:
Monitoring and Reporting: Proposed to appoint an independent monitoring trustee with the access and technical expertise needed to ensure compliance. Testing and Consulting: We have provided CMA with a broader testing effort, along with a more transparent process for getting market feedback on privacy sandbox proposals. Further clarify the use of data. It emphasizes our commitment not to use Google’s first-party personal data to track users for targeting and measuring ads that appear on non-Google websites. Google’s efforts also limit the use of Chrome’s browsing history and analytics data to do this on Google or non-Google websites.
As with the previous set of pledges, we have agreed to apply additional commitments globally, given that the package will be accepted by UK regulators.
Therefore, UK regulators continue to play a key role in shaping how major web infrastructures evolve.
Google’s blog also mentions the opinion released yesterday by the British Intelligence Commission. This has prompted the ad: tech industry to move away from current tracking and profiling methods of ad targeting.
“We also set yesterday at ICOs Opinion on data protection and privacy expectations for online advertising proposals, including the importance of supporting and developing privacy-safe advertising tools that protect people’s privacy and prevent confidentiality tracking. We support the goals that have been set, “Google said.
This summer, Google announced a postponement of its previous timeline regarding the abolition of tracking cookies. It states that support in Chrome will not begin to be phased out until late 2023.
At this point in time for additional delays to that timeline, there is no suggestion from the tech giant — suppose it advances the green light of regulation.
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