Home Web internet UK marketing group files antitrust complaint against Google’s Privacy Sandbox with EU – TechCrunch

UK marketing group files antitrust complaint against Google’s Privacy Sandbox with EU – TechCrunch


A coalition of digital marketing companies and others has lobbied against Google’s plan to phase out tracking cookies – replacing them with alternative technologies that the tech giant says will protect user privacy – with the European Union, by filing a formal complaint with the bloc’s antitrust. regulators.

The so-called “Open Web Movement” (MOW), as the opaque group pushing the complaint is now called (RIP “Marketers for an Open Web”), issued a press release announcing the movement today – and claiming that he has provided the Commission with “evidence of Google’s technological changes, their impact on choice and competition”, and proposed some “potential remedies”.

Google and the Commission have been contacted to comment on the complaint.

EU regulators finally opened an investigation into Google’s adtech this summer, announcing an in-depth investigation in June that they said would include exploration of the Privacy Sandbox proposal.

A UK investigation into the matter was announced months earlier, in January, and the issue remains on the office of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – Google suggesting concessions this summer.

The remedies suggested by MOW to EU regulators include requirements that Google must notify the EU in advance of any changes to its browser (Chrome / Chrome) – in order to “allow[e] the privacy and competition assessments to be carried out by the EU and data protection authorities in accordance with Google’s proposed remedy to the UK Competition and Market Authority and the Information Commissioner’s Office ‘ , as he puts it.

So here you can see the strange spectacle of a campaign launched by a group of marketers apparently lobbying. for User “privacy”; but of course they would say no, given that the EU has already flagged “user privacy” as one of the areas its antitrust investigation will examine. (In addition, the UK CMA and the Information Commissioner’s Office are working together on the Privacy Sandbox complaint.)

Notably, MOW’s website still doesn’t reveal exactly who the members of this anti-Google-Privacy-Sandbox / pro-tracking-cookie group are – other than the name of its director, James Rosewell (co-founder of the company UK mobile marketing, 51 Degrees).

Instead, he writes that: “The MOW is backed by companies which, among themselves, have annual revenues of over $ 40 billion. The name has been changed as more and more businesses, not just marketing companies, realize the threat of Privacy Sandbox and the benefit of joining the MOW campaign.

MOW may indeed have evolved its membership to include entities with a genuine (rather than opportunistic) concern for user privacy. But since he won’t be disclosing his membership, it’s impossible to know …

Commenting on the complaint in a statement, Rosewell said: “The Internet was originally envisioned as an open environment beyond the control of a single organization. Google maintains that it is making these changes to protect privacy, but if not properly monitored, the move threatens digital media, online privacy and innovation.

“Law-aligned solutions – not a selfish misuse of web architecture by Big Tech members like Google – are needed. More people, ceding more personal data to fewer companies does not improve anyone’s privacy while stifling competition and further increasing their huge profits.

Lawyer Tim Cowen, who is listed as legal advisor to MOW and chairman of the antitrust practice of Preiskel & Co LLP, added: “We call on the European Commission to create a level playing field for all digital businesses , in order to maintain and protect an open canvas. Google says they boost “privacy” for end users, but they don’t, what they’re really offering is a spooky data mining party. “

Google has already delayed its Privacy Sandbox implementation schedule – announcing in June that it would take longer to move away from tracking cookies due to continued engagement with the UK antitrust regulator.

He also offered not phase out tracking cookies unless or until the UK Competition and Markets Authority is satisfied that the transition to alternative technologies can be done in a way that protects competition and privacy.

So MOW, presumably, smells of blood – spying on an opportunity to advocate for a broader pan-European freeze on Google’s Privacy Sandbox game, rather than just getting UK-specific checks and balances.

When asked if he thought the Commission would support MOW’s complaint, Dr Lukasz Olejnik, a privacy researcher and consultant, told TechCrunch: “The Commission currently has its own investigation, so I might consider this additional complaint as a case in point. Technological anti-competitive proceedings tend to be slow, so the investigation might just snowball things up. “

“Long ago, the European Data Protection Supervisor identified potential links between privacy and competition. Opinions and activities followed. However, it is true that EU competition regulators prioritize their own principles, rather than focusing on confidentiality, ”he also told us.

“In fact, I doubt that any [world] competition regulator would balance competition with privacy. They should, I believe, see it as an internal aspect of society and technology. Maybe this will happen to some extent? But although we are aware that UK CMA and ICO are in contact, it is not known if the EC and EDPS are also in sync compared to the last investigation. “

Given that Google has already offered a number of legally binding commitments to the UK’s CMA regarding Privacy Sandbox, several entities interested in this story could see a ‘quick win’ if the bloc can be persuaded to adopt quickly to pretty much the same frame, assuming the AMC accepts it as well.

“I think the easiest action would be to take the commitments made to the CMA, copy and paste them, maybe change them a bit and hand them over to the EU. I don’t know if it would work so easily. However, it is clear that Google wants to remove this potential roadblock as quickly as possible, ”agreed Olejnik.

“It is quite clear that the harm to the consumer can result not only from the conduct of the market, but other aspects are notable. For example, the standards of confidentiality and data protection, ”he added.


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