Google and UK regulators collaborating as third-party ad tracking is phased out

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With its ad tracking and targeting practices coming under scrutiny following an announcement by the UK Competition and Markets Authority in January, it looks like Google will now be collaborating with regulators in the region as it looks to address the technologies it will look to employ for its Privacy Sandbox.

The company confirmed that it would indeed be working closely with regulators on the process, while also noting that this is the first time that authorities and a big tech firm have collaborated on such an endeavour.

“When the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced its formal investigation of the Privacy Sandbox in January, we welcomed the opportunity to engage with a regulator with the mandate to promote competition for the benefit of consumers,” explained Google in a statement.

“This process has also recognized the importance of reconciling privacy and competition concerns. In a first-of-its-kind review involving converging regulatory authorities and expertise, the United Kingdom’s privacy regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is working collaboratively with, and providing direct input to, the CMA on Google’s approach,” it added.

Google further unpacked a series of commitments it plans to adhere to during this collaborative process. To that end, third-party cookies are phased out for example, Google says it ads products will not access synced Chrome browsing histories or data from other user-facing Google products.

Another commitment focuses on antitrust concerns regarding the Privacy Sandbox and how it could be used to favour Google products over competitor ones. On this front Googles says that, “Our commitments make clear that, as the Privacy Sandbox proposals are developed and implemented, that work will not give preferential treatment or advantage to Google’s advertising products or to Google’s own sites.”

Also of importance during this process is transparency and here Google has emphasised the fact that the CMA will be communicated with during every step.

“Throughout this process, we will engage the CMA and the industry in an open, constructive and continuous dialogue. This includes proactively informing both the CMA and the wider ecosystem of timelines, changes and tests during the development of the Privacy Sandbox proposals, building on our transparent approach to date,” says the company.

If Google is indeed committed to building a more private web, as the Privacy Sandbox claims to be, more collaborations with regulators will need to happen, along with input from the public, which the CMA confirms as a step it will be taking.

[Image – Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.