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Alphabet's Google agrees to UK competition watchdog's demands on privacy practices

Britain's competition watchdog has secured assurances from Google that the tech giant will make changes to its use of user-tracking cookies in its browser, following concerns about their impact on the digital advertising market.

The Competition and Markets Authority has been investigating Google's plan to cut support for some cookies in Chrome for the purpose of protecting user privacy.

The CMA was concerned that if the changes proceeded as planned 'this may cause advertising spending to become even more concentrated on Google, harming consumers who ultimately pay for the cost of advertising'.

'It may also undermine the ability of online publishers such as newspapers to generate revenue and continue to produce valuable content in the future, reducing choice for consumers,' the CMA explained.

In June, Google proposed making changes to its 'privacy sandbox', including allowing the CMA an oversight role, and it has now said these commitments will apply globally.

The authority revealed on Friday that the Alphabet-owned company has extended its commitments to last six years.

Google has also made new pledges to address some remaining competition concerns, including reducing access to IP addresses and clarifying internal limits on the data that it could use.

The tech giant said separately in a blog that is was 'determined to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox is developed in a way that works for the entire ecosystem'.

The CMA said it would consult on the new commitments until 17 December.

CMA chief executive Coscelli said: 'We have always been clear that Google's efforts to protect users privacy cannot come at the cost of reduced competition.

'If accepted, the commitments we have obtained from Google become legally binding, promoting competition in digital markets, helping to protect the ability of online publishers to raise money through advertising and safeguarding users' privacy.'

Earlier this month, the CMA boss threatened to break up US tech giants if a new crackdown on their monopoly power fails to protect consumers and fails to stop the big firms from bullying smaller rivals.

He said that break-ups would become an attractive option for the CMA if other countries were also struggling to constrain the big tech firms.

The US and the EU have joined efforts to draw up new rules to promote competition online.




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