NMA Welcomes CMA Examination Of Privacy Sandbox Proposals

The News Media Association has welcomed the Competition and Markets Authority’s examination of Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals which the regulator said could distort competition in the supply of ad inventory and ad tech services in the UK.  

In a submission to the CMA’s consultation on its notice of intention to accept commitments offered by Google in relation to Privacy Sandbox,  the NMA welcomed the focus on the proposals but said it was concerned with the lack of accountability measures placed on Google to ensure it meets its commitments.

“From the outset, the NMA would like to extend its thanks to the CMA for examining the Privacy Sandbox proposals put forward by Google. As the CMA has recognised, the Privacy Sandbox proposals pose a direct threat to publishers,” the NMA said.  

“In particular, it is estimated that the removal of third-party cookies is likely to cut news publisher online revenues by two-thirds, which would directly impact the ability of news publishers to fund the quality journalism which keeps us all informed.”

The NMA welcomed the CMA’s recognition that the Privacy Sandbox tools would distort competition in the supply of ad inventory and ad tech services in the UK and give Google the opportunity to self-preference its own ad inventory and ad tech services in a way that cannot be scrutinised by third parties.

The NMA supports the CMA’s concerns that Chrome users could also be exploited and that the Privacy Sandbox tools are not adequate substitutes for the current third-party cookie system.  The CMA has also expressed concern that a move from third party cookies to Privacy Sandbox will benefit Google to the detriment of other stakeholders in the advertising eco system.

The NMA welcomed the CMA’s focus on Privacy Sandbox but added: “Whilst we appreciate the commitments that the CMA has elicited from Google for its Privacy Sandbox proposals, the NMA is concerned that the CMA has not indicated in detail how it intends to hold Google accountable to those commitments, particularly given that these commitments are undertaken in lieu of a full investigation and enforcement action for findings of competition law infringement.”