Campaigners today urged Britain’s Competition Watchdog to impose a restraining Order on Google for its implementation of the controversial Privacy Sandbox’ system.

Google is looking to replace the third-party cookies that advertisers use to track users across websites with new technology. This will allow Google’s tech team to split the users into groups.

The ‘Movement for an Open Web (MOW), an alliance of tech businesses and advertisers has stated that Google admitted that it removes content. Cookies from third parties ‘without an appropriate replacement’ This would result in most top 500 publishers around the globe losing more than 50% and others over 75% of their revenue.

MOW now calls for the Competition and Markets Authority to issue a restraining or against Privacy Sandbox’s rollout until US tech giants can prove that they have met all of the promises it made about the system.

Google made commitments to the CMA in June regarding the rollout, meaning that it would be under watchdog supervision. These were reviewed by the CMA, who requested they be strengthened. Google responded with improved commitments last month.

These include increasing Google’s transparency and engagement in the industry and improving the provisions for the firm to self-pitch its advertising products.

MOW claims that the Privacy Sandbox will prevent independent analytics, fraud detection and data services. It also affects performance optimization and other open-source features.

Movement for an Open Web pointed to this document by Google in 2019 that said if third-party cookies are removed without an adequate replacement, 'most of the world's top 500 publishers would lose more than 50 per cent of their revenue, and some over 75 per cent'

Movement for an Open Web pointed us to the 2019 Google Doc by Google. It stated that third-party cookie removal without an adequate replacement would result in a loss of revenue of more than half of top 500 publishers worldwide, with some losing over 50% and 75% respectively.

The 'Privacy Sandbox' will be a major overhaul of how ads work on Google's Chrome browser

Google’s Chrome browser will undergo a significant overhaul with the ‘Privacy Sandbox.

Additionally, it believes that the system will improve the data Google receives from unpublished sources via integrated services such as search engines.

It now wants an injunction that Google can’t implement the Privacy Sandbox stage until it proves to the CMA that it has met the amended commitments.

Google gave what undertakings to the Competition and Markets Authority

These are Google’s new promises to the Competition and Markets Authority regarding its Privacy Sandbox rollout:

  • Make sure that Google mentions the CMA’s ongoing role in its key public announcements.
  • It will instruct staff to not make any claims to customers in contradiction to its commitments.
  • Report regularly to CMA about how Google takes into account third-party views.
  • To address the concerns regarding Google’s removal of functionality and information before the Privacy Sandbox changes are complete, Google will delay enforcement of the Privacy Budget proposal. It will also offer commitments to implement measures to restrict access to IP addresses.
  • Define the limits of the data Google has the right to use.
  • Provide greater assurance to those who are developing alternate technologies
  • Improve the reporting and compliance provisions, such as by appointing an approved monitoring trustee CMA-approved;
  • Google’s amended commitments will last 6 years after the CMA accepts them.

James Rosewell, the founder of MOW today called upon CMA to continue its actions.

He explained that the authority had to listen to Google employees who are about to be fired. 

‘Google’s planned changes will hurt businesses – Google themselves say so. CMA must be able to use their power and lean in on the CMA.

We will soon see many publishers (and with them their titles and journalism) going to the wall, or the “walled gardens” of Google and Apple. An interim order can be used to allow time for negotiations to improve competition and privacy online.

Allies highlighted the 2019 document from Google engineers, which stated that Privacy Sandbox would remove ‘third party’ cookies without a replacement. This could lead to a loss of revenue for most top 500 publishers around the globe of more than 50% and 75% respectively.

The MOW spokesperson added that the loss of digital advertising is a threat to journalism, as more news media outlets rely on it for their income. CMA concurs with this finding, and believes that the losses likely to occur are close to 70%.

MailOnline reached out to Google and the CMA for comments today.  

Google made new suggestions last month about how to use customer data after the CMA intervention.

CMA is worried that Privacy Sandbox could reduce competition by disabling third-party cookies from Chrome.

Investigators raised concerns that plans by Google to hide data – in the name of privacy – would impede competition in digital advertising markets.

According to the CMA, this could result in advertising spending becoming more focused on Google and thereby affecting consumers who pay final advertising costs.

This could impact the revenue generation and future production of valuable content by online publishers, thus reducing the number of choices for customers. 

Google’s proposed changes to privacy have been approved by the regulator. This will allow users to enjoy improved privacy without being negatively affected.

Google has already announced a two-year delay on phasing out the third-party cookies

Google already has announced that it will delay the phasing-out of third-party cookies for two years

In June, the CMA began its investigation. It heard more than 40 parties who expressed concern about competition.

Google now commits to transparency and engagement. They also promise to not remove functionality prior to third-party cookies.

It stated that CMA would continue its monitoring of the company and it would be mentioned in key public announcements.

Customers must be aware that staff cannot make false claims about customers and they must regularly report on the extent to which third-party opinions are being taken into consideration.

Google announced an already two-year delay in the removal of third-party cookie tracking from its browser, until 2023. It is working with the industry to avoid unfair advantages.

The CMA stated that Google will have to clarify its data usage limits and will give greater clarity to other parties working on alternative technology solutions.