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Monday, January 25, 2021

Google Faces Fresh Antitrust Probe in the UK Over Ad Data Revamp Plans

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Following a number of investigations over alleged monopolistic trade practices in India, the US, EU and various other regions around the world, Google is now facing yet another antitrust probe, this time in the UK, over its data collection practices.

According to AP, UK’s antitrust watchdog, Competition and Markets Authority, initiated its investigation after receiving a complaint from an organization called ‘Marketers for an Open Web’, which is said to be a coalition of technology and publishing companies.

In a statement released Monday, the industry lobby group said that it urged the regulator to prevent Google from rolling out its controversial ‘Privacy Sandbox’ that it says will further cement the company’s position as the preeminent data-miner in the world.

Purportedly created as a privacy feature, the new technology will remove third-party cookies from users’ devices, only to be replaced by Google-owned alternatives, which would put all web-logins, advertising and other functionalities directly under Google’s control, the complaint alleged.

According to the complaint, the move will convert Google’s business model “into the walled garden of its Chrome browser, where it would be beyond the reach of regulators”. To prevent that from happening, the organization is asking the regulator to force Google into delaying the implementation of its proposed plan so that governments can come up with a more long-term solution to address the issue.

The Competition and Markets Authority has acknowledged receiving the complaint, and promised to give the case a fair hearing. In a press statement, the watchdog said: “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”.

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