New Year, New CMA Dominance Investigation'

Publication Date19 January 2021
SubjectAnti-trust/Competition Law, Privacy, Antitrust, EU Competition , Privacy Protection
Law FirmBristows
AuthorMs Francion Brooks

The CMA has taken the unusual procedural step of opening an investigation to assess the proposed conduct of a firm, despite the proposals in question not having been finalised or implemented. The CMA recently announced that it had opened an investigation into Google's proposals - known collectively as the 'Privacy Sandbox' project - which would disable third party cookies on the Chrome browser and Chromium browser engine and replace them with a new set of tools which aim to protect consumers' privacy to a greater extent. The project is said to have a roughly two-year time frame, over which period Google plans to devise alternative technical solutions. It is somewhat surprising that the CMA has launched an investigation at this stage, particularly given that it has had the opportunity, alongside the Information Commissioner's Office (under the umbrella of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum), to engage in informal discussions with Google on the development of these proposals.

This pre-emptive move most likely arises out of the CMA's focus on the digital sector for which it considers ex ante preventative controls may be more effective than seeking to correct any resulting harm with traditional ex post competition enforcement. There has been widespread commentary suggesting that traditional competition rules move too slowly and that markets may have tipped by the time investigations are...

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