UK Watchdog, CMA to investigate Google Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox rollout plan

Douglas Mabiria  - Expert Tech Reporter
Last updated: November 19, 2023
UK CMA Google Chrome privacy sandbox
  • British regulator scrutinizes Google’s privacy plan to remove third-party cookies and other Chrome browser features.
  • Google intends to change web cookies with a new system named Privacy Sandbox that would share limited information with adversities.
  • The change in Chrome’s cookies can have an immense impact on news websites and the online ads market.

The privacy updates in the internet world are happening across different platforms. A lot is happening in online advertising; Google is making changes across its Chrome cookies network.

Chrome cookies are small files that store users’ information while they visit a webpage. Google has plans to change how it provides information to advertisers through cookies and other functions on its Chrome browser.

Google’s ‘Privacy Sandbox’ is an alternative to cookies that would bring massive changes in the online advertising industry—having an adverse impact.

The U.K.’s governmental anti-competitive regulator, Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will look into Google’s new Chrome activities. The CMA believes that Google’s new ‘Privacy Sandbox’ initiative can have a massive impact on news websites and the online advertising market.

What is Chrome’s new Privacy Sandbox plan?

The new Chrome plan came into the news, with the UK watchdog taking notice of it. The CMA is investigating the internet giant for possibly violating the corporate competitive law. The new privacy proposal named “privacy sandbox” would disable third-party cookies.

Chrome would change the way it operates in tracking user’s information. Reportedly, Google’s famous browser will track user’s demographic information needed to deliver targeted ads. This means that it would limit the access to operations of online advertising.

Google had planned long ago to quit its third-party cookies and has been working on its privacy sandbox function. Though, the company is yet to declare which way it will exactly go—bring a whole new Chrome set up or just make specific changes. Google has just taken initial steps and has signaled towards its fresh privacy set-up of Chrome.

The CMA wants to ensure that Alphabet’s Google has breached no competitive code of conduct. The U.K. regulator has highlighted that there are no privacy concerns; they just want to check how Chrome’s privacy sandbox would influence publishers like newspapers and the advertising industry.

What will be the impact of Privacy Sandbox?

Google has already been harsh on publishers and has taken down thousands of websites. With that being said, the Chrome browser is still one of the most widely used browsers – hence it’s potent for any news website.

Thanks to its colossal user base, Google’s browser is one of the biggest marketplaces for the digital advertising market. As of 2020, it was estimated that Chrome had an internet browser market share of approximately 70% for desktop users.

If the Chrome privacy sandbox comes into action, it would entirely change the way Chrome cookies function. That, in return, would significantly dismantle the entire digital ad industry. Google controls the browsing world, but that does not mean that it could have an illicit competitive advantage.

With that being said, in 2019, famous browsers including Firefox and Safari had made it default to block the third-party tracking cookies. Similarly, Chrome allows blocking third-party cookies. And, this has badly affected the digital advertising industry and publishers—at the same time.

Back in Nov. 2020, the Ad agencies collaborated as the Marketers for an Open Web (MOW) and appealed to CMA to stop Google from implementing its new Chrome Privacy Sandbox.

The inquiry would suggest whether Google has infringed any rules and had an unfair competitive advantage through a new Chrome plan or not. The CMA would finally decide the fate of the search giant regarding its Privacy Sandbox. Google has time to address its new policy and answer the U.K. watchdog.

On the other side of the picture, what Google is doing is the demand of users. According to a survey, most of the users want to see personalized ads. But it would go against the ethics and law to make this happen at the expense of any other industry. Meanwhile, the digital advertising industry can look for alternatives to keep things going. Users who are not happy with Google’s current privacy practices can consider trying some secure Google alternatives.

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About the Author

Douglas Mabiria

Douglas Mabiria

Expert Tech Reporter

Douglas is a freelance writer with over six years of experience in article and blog writing who has written in almost every industry with cybersecurity being his primary interest. Mabiria is an advocate for internet privacy, sustainable development, and a green environment. He is very social and enjoys trying new sports as well as implementing new ideas.

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