British regulators have hit a agreement with Google to monitor its changes to the way people are tracked online. The country’s competition watchdog said today it had secured “substantial” commitments from the technology giant dealing with privacy and competition issues. Regulators launched an investigation in Google’s so-called Privacy Sandbox project in January for fears it would bolster its market power.
Google replacement in order third-party cookies includes cohort IDs that serve ads to groups of people grouped based on their common interests. The process effectively “hides” individuals in the crowd and uses processing on devices to keep a person’s web history private on the Chrome browser, according to the company. However, the changes have provoked screams from regulators and sections of the advertising industry and online publishers who fear that Google may violate its rules.
While orchestrating its Privacy Sandbox, Google promises not to discriminate against its rivals. To allay antitrust fears, the company said it does not favor its own advertising and advertising firms when designing or implementing alternatives to third-party cookies. Google has also promised to limit its usage and to collect user data after the changes take effect.
Meanwhile, regulators are promising increased transparency, including in the results of Google’s testing of alternative technology. They may also order a “standstill period” of 60 days if one of their major concerns has not been resolved, during which time they will be able to relaunch an investigation and impose interim measures.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Office of the Information Commissioner – the UK’s leading data regulator – are now consulting on commitments with third-party input until on July 8th. If they agree to accept them, the commitments will become legally binding, the CMA said.
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