A coalition of tech companies, publishers and advertisers that call themselves the Movement for an Open Web have banded together to ask the UK Competition and Markets Authority to block Google’s plans to end 3rd party cookies and implement their Privacy Sandbox.
They asked the UK competition regulator to impose a formal Restraining Order on the US tech giant.
MOW highlights a 2019 document (below) authored by Google’s own engineers, which found that if Privacy Sandbox removes ‘third-party’ cookies used by businesses without an adequate replacement, most of the world’s top 500 publishers would lose more than 50 per cent of their revenue, and some over 75 per cent.
This is tantamount to a major threat to journalism as news publishers increasingly rely upon digital advertising for income.
The campaigning organisation has responded to a Competition and Markets Authority consultation with a plea for Google to be forced to stop restricting the ability of online publishers and other enterprises to go about their business. The call for an injunction comes as the CMA’s investigation of Google’s market dominance enters a second year.
The CMA agrees with the finding and thinks the likely losses are closer to 70%. Google has tried to promote alternative products (FloC and Fledge) but in March 2021 it became clear that none would work, with Google postponing its implementation after pressure from privacy advocates.
James Rosewell, founder of MOW said it was vital the Competition and Markets Authority took decisive action.
“Having put the issue out for consultation, the authority must listen to those in Google’s imminent firing line. Google’s planned changes will hurt businesses – Google themselves say so. The CMA need to lean in and use their powers. If not, we will see many publishers, and with that their titles and their journalism, going to the wall or the ‘walled gardens’ of Google and Apple. Using an interim order will provide the time to negotiate workable improvements to competition and online privacy.”
MOW’s concerns are not unfounded – Apple’s similar move to limit tracking has seen major holes in Facebook and other advertisers revenue on iOS – the move will increasingly see websites turn into pay to view services and more paywalls rise all over the internet.
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