The Future of Mobile

Marketers call on launch of Google's Privacy Sandbox to be halted

Tyrone Stewart

An alliance of leading technology and publishing businesses have come together to call on the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to block Google’s launch of its ‘Privacy Sandbox’ technology.

The Marketers for an Open Web (MOW) have written to the CMA to ask it to use its powers to put a stop to Google’s plans. The Privacy Sandbox – due to launch in early 2021 – would remove login, advertising, and other features from the open web on Google’s Chrome browser and place them under the control of the tech giant.

Google’s Chrome browser and Chromium developer tools run on around 72 per cent of UK computers.

The MOW group has warned that the introduction of the technology has nothing to do with privacy, despite its name, and is simply a ploy to move digital advertising away from the open web and beyond the reach of regulators. The coalition also points to its concerns that news publisher revenues will be cut by around two-thirds, with smaller regional publications hit hardest, as a result of them not being able to access the cookies they use to sell advertising.

As a result, the MOW wants the CMA to take action before Google is able to use the Privacy Sandbox to protect itself from any competitive remedies that regulators may propose to mitigate Google’s dominant position on the web.

“The world’s regulators have realised that Google is attempting to take over the web through its dominance of areas such as search, online advertising and browser technologies. However, their efforts to mitigate this monopoly power will be in vain if Google manages to consolidate its dominance through the introduction of Privacy Sandbox prior to the regulators’ recommended changes to the law being implemented.  If Google releases this technology, they will effectively own the means by which media companies, advertisers and technology businesses reach their consumers and that change will be irreversible,” James Rosewell, Director of MOW.

“The concept of the open web is based on a decentralised, standards-based environment that is not under the control of any single commercial organisation.  This model is vital to the health of a free and independent media, to a competitive digital business environment and to the freedom and choice of all web users.  Privacy Sandbox creates new, Google-owned standards and is an irreversible step towards a Google-owned ‘walled garden’ web where they control how businesses and users interact online.”