UK’s Competition Watchdog To Examine Google’s Browser Changes

On Friday the UK’s competition watchdog said it has set into motion an investigation into Google’s proposals to remove third-party cookies and other functions from its Chrome browser, following concerns the move could restrain rival digital advertising. The investigation will evaluate whether the proposals could cause advertising spend to become even more concentrated on the ecosystem of Alphabet’s Google at the expense of its competitors, the Competition and Markets Authority said.

The ‘Privacy Sandbox’ project, will allow people to receive relevant ads, helping to sustain the current advertising model without tracking users on an individual level.

CMA Chief Executive Officer Andrea Coscelli said,”As the CMA found in its recent market study, Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals will potentially have a very significant impact on publishers like newspapers, and the digital advertising market.” CMA has received many complaints from Marketers for an Open Web, which claim that Google is “abusing its dominant position” through the proposals. Mozilla and Apple Inc’s Safari have already blocked third-party cookies. A Google spokeswoman said, “Creating a more private web, while also enabling the publishers and advertisers who support the free and open internet, requires the industry to make major changes to the way digital advertising works.” “We welcome the CMA’s involvement as we work to develop new proposals to underpin a healthy, ad-supported web without third-party cookies.”

Third-party cookies have an important part in digital advertising by helping advertisers target effectively and fund free online content for consumers, such as newspapers, the regulator said.