An industry group has complained to the EU, claiming the move is “anti-competitive”
A coalition of digital marketing firms and others is vigorously lobbying against Google’s plan to phase out tracking cookies. The tech giant wants to replace cookies with alternative technologies which Google claims will protect user privacy. But an industry advocacy group has now gone to the European Union and lodged a formal complaint with the bloc’s antitrust regulators.
The group “Movement for an Open Web” (MOW), a UK-based marketing watchdog, put out a press release announcing the move this week.
They say they have provided the European Commission with “evidence of Google’s technology changes” and they “impact choice and competition”.
MOW said the proposal would give Google the power to decide what data can be shared on the web and with whom.
“Google says they’re strengthening ‘privacy’ for end users but they’re not,” MOW claim. “What they’re really proposing is a creepy data mining party,” MOW lawyer Tim Cowen said in a statement.
The EC is taking the complaint seriously
The Commission confirmed receipt of the complaint, saying it would assess it under the standard procedures. In June, it kicked off an investigation into Google’s online display advertising technology services.
Google has offered to settle the case in a bid to avoid a possible fine and a disruptive prolonged probe, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.
EU regulators finally opened an investigation of Google’s adtech this summer. They announced an in-depth probe in June that they said would include delving into the Privacy Sandbox proposal.
A U.K. probe of that launched months earlier, in January. And the issue remains a live one on the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) desk. The flap has caused Google to suggest concessions this summer.
MOW has suggested their own remedies to EU regulators. These include requirements that Google should notify the EU ahead of time over any changes to its browser (Chrome/Chromium). This is necessary, they say, to “enabl[e] privacy and competition assessments to be made by the EU and data protection authorities in line with Google’s proposed remedy to the UK’s Competition and Market Authority and Information Commissioner’s Office”.