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Media Review #24: General Availability (GA), New EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework, and Other News

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Last Updated on: 3rd June 2024, 05:17 pm

In this Media Review, you can read about Google’s Privacy Sandbox for Desktop and Android advancements, Meta’s swap from GDPR’s Legitimate Interest to Consent clause, and European Commission’s concerns over Google disrupting competition across MarTech.

Table of Contents:

Shipping the Privacy Sandbox relevance and measurement APIs (the shape of General Availability (GA))—Chrome Developers

= Google specifies how its General Availability (GA) stage (our Media Review #23 gave some initial hints about its shape and timeline) will play out in the upcoming weeks. The plan was to start the GA a few days after the Chrome 115 Stable introduction, achieve 35% of Privacy Sandbox-enabled users in Chrome within the first week, to later ramp up to the desired 99% of adoption in mid-August (with the Chrome 116 Stable release). Those percentages were supposed to include both all-around APIs enablement and smaller groups with only a single API set on. However, the first signs of a gradual ramp-up were only observed by RTB House in the second week of August, so the aforementioned milestones will supposedly be achieved proportionally later than planned.

= Another milestone in the Privacy Sandbox’s timeline is marked by the fresh CMA’s Q2 report about fulfilling Privacy Sandbox commitments. It emphasizes general CMA’s content about Privacy Sandbox’s creation progress and how developers account for the collected feedback. It also outlines that third-party cookies might be deprecated in the late autumn of 2024 and the fact that, due to privacy-related concerns, Chrome resigned from Topics API’s classifier enhancement, which was supposed to analyze web page titles.[Note: In April 2024, the full-scale deprecation was further postponed until early 2025].

= However, the lack of a more precise classifier doesn’t stop Chrome from introducing some other significant enhancements to the Topics API. The updates include: 

  • Topics API’s taxonomy is getting deprived of 160 commercially irrelevant categories (such as “Civil Engineering”) and enriched with 280 topics, which are more valuable to advertisers (for example, “Athletic Apparel”). As a result, the taxonomy is ultimately enlarged from a pool of 349 to 469 segments.
  • Per-caller filtering is updated to account for the new “observation” definition, which essentially means that if a caller observes the “shoes” category, the mechanism assumes that the higher ancestor category also counts as observed by that caller (previously, each topic had to be individually observed, without accounting for tier correlation).
  • User controls enhancements.
  • Improved latency through the implementation of headers for iframes.

= Last but not least, AdExchanger says that AppsFlyer authored a beta working solution for the Protected Audience API in cooperation with Remerge. Their solution is claimed to let buyers create custom audiences for campaigns without the requirement for their own SDK integration.

Europe adopts U.S. data adequacy decisionTechCrunch

= The European Union adopts a new agreement with the United States regarding the adequacy of transatlantic data transfers. TechCrunch reminds us that it enormously impacts many different technological companies, including Meta and Google (mainly in reference to its Google Analytics 4), as they will be allowed to continue their business-as-usual operations in Europe, which was in doubt until recently. 

= Needless to say, only three months ago, Meta was ordered to suspend their EU data flows, which we wrote about in our Media Review 23. Now, the article claims Meta can disregard that order, emphasizing at the same time that the enforced fine will still have to be taken care of.

= Although the new agreement has closed the issue of legal EU-U.S. data flows, there is a question of how persistent the new document will be. TechCrunch points out that some (mainly the privacy advocates) consider the new agreement to be very similar to the previous one, the one which had been dismissed by the EU judges.

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How Meta Uses Legal Bases for Processing Ads in the EUMeta Newsroom

= Meta announces an intention to change the legal basis for behavioral advertising data collection on Facebook and Instagram in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland from GDPR’s ‘Legitimate Interests’ to its ‘Consent’ clause. The specific timing is not yet given, but some more details were promised to appear “over the months ahead.”

= According to Meta’s statement, the underlying reason for performing such a swap was increasing pressure from the EU and particular European countries’ regulators and courts. The German Court of Justice, for example, recently ruled that GDPR’s “Legitimate Interest” clause cannot be applied to justify behavioral data collection across Facebook and Instagram without explicit users’ consent. 

= Norway’s data protection authority, on the other hand, bans Meta from running behavioral advertising on its platforms in Norway unless it secures informed consent to do so from its users. The ban is temporary and enforced for the period of three months, with each day of disobedience resulting in a $100 K fine.

Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Google over abusive practices in online advertising technologyEuropean Commission

= The European Commission issues a Statement of Objections to Google over abusive practices in online advertising technology. The EC claims that only “divestment by Google of part of its services would address its competition concerns.” The Statement of Objections doesn’t necessarily imply that the forthcoming investigation proves those allegations true.

= The concerns include Google favoring its proprietary internet advertising technology services at the cost of competing MarTech providers, advertisers, and online publishers. The article released by the EC includes graphs and thorough descriptions, which aim to depict Google’s presence across the entire online advertising stack, and why that fact might be detrimental to fair competition in the industry.

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