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News 30 Sep 2021 - 2 min read

$40bn digital marketing coalition files anti-Google complaint with EU Commission

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Senior Writer
Movement for an Open Web

“Google maintains it is making these changes to protect privacy but if not properly policed, the move threatens digital media, online privacy and innovation," MOW Director James Rosewell said.

Google’s plan to deprecate third party cookies has drawn the ire of a group of digital marketing agencies that have a combined $40 billion in revenue. They’ve argued the change benefits Google but doesn’t improve privacy and needs greater oversight.

What you need to know:

  • A major group of digital marketing companies has filed a complaint with the EU Commission against Google’s plan to phase out third party cookies, arguing the move is anti-competitive and will reduce accountability and transparency.
  • The Movement for an Open Web (MOW) says the changes need to be policed and regulators should be much more oversight.

A group of digital marketing firms in the UK has filed a formal complaint with the European Union Commission against Google, arguing the tech giant’s “Privacy Sandbox” changes – and the deprecation of third-party cookies – will devastate the open internet.

The Movement for an Open Web (MOW) is calling on the EU Commission to use its powers to “stop Google from enclosing the Open Web”, which would give the company the power to “decide what data can be shared on the web and with whom”.

The deprecation of third party cookies was originally planned for the end of 2021, but it was pushed out to 2023 after Google conceded its alternatives were not market ready.

MOW says the EU should have oversight of Google’s planned browser changes, be notified in advance of any anticompetitive browser changes, conduct regular qualitative reviews of any changes, and ensure oversight by data protection authorities.

“The internet was originally envisaged as an open environment outside the control of any single body,” MOW director James Rosewell said.

“Google maintains it is making these changes to protect privacy but if not properly policed, the move threatens digital media, online privacy and innovation… more people, surrendering more personal data to fewer companies doesn’t improve anyone’s privacy while stifling competition and boosting their huge profits even further.”

MOW’s members have annual revenues of more than $40 billion.

The complaint comes days after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its long-awaited final report of its Digital Advertising Services Inquiry. The inquiry found Google’s role in the ad tech space has “significant” and “systemic” competition implications.

The report noted Google phasing out third-party cookies would “increase Google’s incentives to use and market the use of its first-party data on non- Google inventory”.

 ACCC Chair Rod Sims told Mi3 the regulator needed new, stronger powers to effectively manage the competition concerns in the ad tech sector, and he believed Google opening up YouTube inventory to third-party sellers would be a good start to opening up the market.


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