* Consortium of marketers want 'Privacy Sandbox' halted
* Regulator CMA considering request
* Google says digital ad technology needs to evolve
LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Britain's competition regulator
said on Monday it was assessing whether a complaint about Google
related to digital advertising warranted a formal
competition law investigation.
The complaint from Marketers for an Open Web (MOW), a
coalition of technology and publishing companies, said it wanted
the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to delay the launch
of Google's Privacy Sandbox technology.
MOW said the technology would remove features such as login
and advertising from the open web and put them under Google's
"We take the matters raised in the complaint very seriously,
and will assess them carefully with a view to deciding whether
to open a formal investigation under the Competition Act," the
"If the urgency of the concerns requires us to intervene
swiftly, we will also assess whether to impose interim measures
to order the suspension of any suspected anti-competitive
conduct pending the outcome of a full investigation."
MOW said Google's Chrome browser and Chromium developer
tools were being modified to give it greater control over how
publishers and advertisers can operate.
These changes are scheduled for full implementation in early
2021, MOW said.
"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," MOW director James Rosewell said.
Google said the technology will allow people to receive
relevant ads - helping to sustain the current advertising model
- without tracking users on an individual level.
Advertisers would be able to target groups of people without
allowing individual identifying data to leave the browser.
"The ad-supported web is at risk if digital advertising
practices don't evolve to reflect people's changing expectations
around how data is collected and used," Google said.
"That's why Google introduced the Privacy Sandbox, an open
initiative built in collaboration with the industry, to provide
strong privacy for users while also supporting publishers."
The CMA has already spent a year looking into digital
The watchdog has said that Google and Facebook have
developed unassailable market positions, with the two accounting
for nearly 80% of UK's digital advertising spending of 14
billion pounds ($17 billion) in 2019.
However, its investigation, which concluded in July,
recommended regulatory changes rather than a market
CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said in a speech in
October that existing tools were "clearly not sufficient to
address" potential harms, although they would continue to be
"Our key recommendation was that a new regulatory regime is
required in the UK to ensure these markets continue to deliver
benefits to consumers, businesses and the economy as a whole."
Rosewell said regulators globally were looking at Google's
dominance in search, online advertising and browsers.
"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,"
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton/Alexander