Google Agrees to Change Some Ad Practices After French Watchdog Imposes Fine of EUR 220 Million

Google agreed to make changes to some of its widely used online advertising services under a settlement with France’s antitrust watchdog released on Monday.

The authority also fined the Mountain View, California-based company EUR 220 million (roughly 1,950 crores) after a probe found it abused its market power in the intricate advertising business online, where some its tools have become almost essential for large publishers.

“The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it’s the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies,” said France’s antitrust chief Isabelle de Silva.

De Silva said the fine was reduced because of the settlement, but she did not give specifics.

It was reported last week that Google may follow in Apple’s footsteps and won’t allow Android users to get tracked by advertisers. The change is coming through a new version of Google Play services that will roll out in a phased manner starting later this year. It will initially be implied for devices running on Android 12, though Google is in plans to bring the update focussed on limit ad tracking for a larger audience over time.

Once implemented, Android users will be able to restrict tracking by opting out of personalisations using the unique advertising ID associated with their devices, Google noted in a support page. The advertising ID is what advertisers use to track users and serve interest-based, personalised advertisement content. The company said that any attempts to access the identifier will receive a string of zeros instead of any particular value.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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