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Google offers new cookie commitments to CMA

Tech giant proposes a privacy sandbox to replace third-party tracking on Chrome

Broken cookies

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally approved a "privacy sandbox" proposal from Google as a replacement for third-party cookies on the Chrome browser. 

The decision comes after the CMA launched an investigation into Google following allegations of anti-competitive behaviour. 

The sandbox aims to address privacy concerns by removing the cross-site tracking of Chrome users through third-party cookies and other forms of tracking. Instead, the sandbox will create a set of alternative tools to provide the functionalities that are currently dependent on cross-site tracking, according to the CMA. 

The UK's competition regulator has been working closely with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), as well as its international counterparts, to assess Google's plans. The watchdog was keen to secure an outcome that would "work for everyone".

The CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said the watchdog had been "clear" that Google's efforts to protect user's privacy could not come at the cost of reduced competition.

"We welcome Google's co-operation and are grateful to all the interested parties who engaged with us during the consultation," Coscelli said.

"If accepted, the commitments we have obtained from Google become legally binding, promoting competition in digital markets, helping to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising and safeguarding users' privacy."

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Round 40 third-party organisations agreed with the CMA's competition concerns, but also suggested certain commitments to strengthen several areas, such as increasing Google's transparency and engagement with the industry. It was also recommended that there should be improvements to the provisions on Google self-preferencing its advertising products and services and bolstering the monitoring of Google's compliance.

To address those points, Google has offered to mention the CMA's involvement in key public announcements, regularly report to the watchdog, clarify all internal limits on the data Google uses and improve the provisions on reporting and compliance, including by appointing a CMA-approved monitoring trustee.

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