Press Release

Google must reset Privacy Sandbox to abide by CMA agreement

The Movement for an Open Web (MOW) has today called for concrete action from Google on its Privacy Sandbox, in order to ensure it is abiding by the terms of its agreement with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

These commitments put the CMA in the driving seat, ending the era of the ‘catch me if you can’ Privacy Sandbox, and clearly demarking the boundaries of the Privacy Sandbox.

However, Google is still acting as if there are no limits on what it is allowed to do.

Movement for an Open Web (MOW) has produced a thorough analysis of the CMA commitments, which outlines what precise limits apply, and has found that swathes of the Privacy Sandbox proposal are now lame ducks.

Solutions designed to compensate for the removal of third-party cookies that restrict current access to user data are now effectively off the table – or must be fundamentally redesigned, so that Google’s competitors can access the same input data.

For instance, this means that Google’s Topics proposal violates the CMA’s concerns around Google giving itself preferential access to user data.

Similarly, First Party Sets, that allow corporations controlling multiple domains to operate them as if they were a single domain, would create unequal access to user data within the market.

Both of these proposals are now all but dead in the water – but there has been no movement from Google as to their future.

Google must recognise that any and all solutions like Topics, FLEDGE and FLOC that restrict data will no longer meet the terms of the agreement they are bound by. The fact they have yet to “correct course” and withdraw these solutions calls into question whether Google as a whole is even aware of the commitments in a meaningful sense.

MOW is now calling for a reset from Google on the Privacy Sandbox in line with their commitments. The Privacy Sandbox is due for an overhaul so it complies with the CMA’s binding agreement – and Google must walk the walk, as well as talking the talk. Continuing as if nothing has changed wastes everyone’s time and further harms the market.

Notes for Editors

Movement for an Open Web’s Primer and Analysis on the Google & CMA commitments agreement:

The Movement for an Open Web has produced a detailed and condensed analysis of the CMA commitments, outlining key takeaways and clearly defining that the implications of the agreement are.

For further specifics, you can access the primer document here:

You can also read our in-depth analysis of the commitments here:

About the Movement for an Open Web:

The Movement for an Open Web represents a network of businesses, publishers and advertisers concerned about the future of the Open Web. We oppose all attempts by trillion-dollar gatekeepers to unilaterally restrict competition across the open web for their own benefit. If you want to help oppose anti-competitive actions from tech giants and protect our online ecosystems, consider joining the Movement for an Open Web.

For further information on membership or for other enquiries, contact Media@harrymovementforanopenweb-com

Header image courtesy of Justus Menke via Unsplash (Licensed for free use under the Unsplash License)