Watchdog to probe Google over web ad dominance

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Google faces major competition probe over its dominance of internet advertising after Britain leaves EU

Google faces a major competition probe over its dominance of internet advertising after Britain leaves the EU. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has revealed it could investigate the tech giant over controversial changes it is making to data rules. It follows a complaint from Marketers for an Open Web, a group of publishers and marketing firms. 

They claim Google’s new so-called privacy sandbox will allow the firm to hoard customer data – giving it an even bigger stranglehold over the digital ads industry and firms that rely on its platform. 

Probe: The CMA said it was looking at whether the concerns could justify a full-blown competition investigation into Google's actions

Probe: The CMA said it was looking at whether the concerns could justify a full-blown competition investigation into Google’s actions

The CMA yesterday said it was looking at whether the concerns could justify a full-blown competition probe into Google’s actions. 

It would be the first major investigation into a tech giant by the CMA, which is preparing to ‘take back control’ of competition matters from Brussels when Britain leaves the EU in January. 

Google already controls 98 per cent of UK search engine traffic and its Chrome software is the most popular web browser among internet users – effectively making it a gatekeeper for huge troves of data. But the firm has enraged advertisers with plans to block third-party ‘cookies’ on Chrome from 2022. 

Cookies are small pieces of data used by websites to track visitors and target people with tailored advertisements. At the moment websites can use cookies to keep tabs on users themselves. But Google wants to replace them with its privacy sandbox, which would block cookies and force advertisers to access user data through its systems instead. 

It argues this will better protect customer privacy, allowing advertisers to target people without tracking individuals. 

But Marketers for an Open Web said if Google releases this technology ‘it will effectively own the means by which media companies, advertisers and technology businesses reach their consumers’.

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