The Australian competition specialist has accused Google of failing to obtain adequate authorization from consumers to use personal data for targeted advertising, a case for which the regulator plans to impose a multimillion dollar fine on the research company.
Announced Monday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched Federal Court proceedings against Google, saying Google has misled consumers into obtaining their consent to “expand the scope of personal informationon that Google could collect and combine on consumer internet activity. ”
ACCC statement insists Google failed to properly inform consumers and failed to obtain explicit informed consent over a change in 2016 that led it to combine personal informationon from accounts Google with data about a person’s activities from other sources. This external data was collected on pages using Google’s DoubleClick advertising tools.
Since the data on non-Google activity was linked to identifying informationon held by Google itself, rather than being kept separately, Google would then have used the combined informationon to improve the performance of its advertising.
For the change, Google provided account holders with a pop-up prompt from 2016 to 2018 that purported to explain how Google would combine data, one that also asked for the user’s permission to do so. Clicking “I agree” has allowed Google to collect and store a wider range of informationon, including data from third-party sites and applications, says ACCC.
“The ACCC alleges that the ‘I agree’ notification was misleading because consumers could not properly understand the changes Google made or how their data would be used, and therefore did not – and could not – provide feedback. informed consent, ”the commission said.
“Using this combined new informationon has allowed Google to dramatically increase the value of its advertising products, from which it has generated much higher profits.” said commission chairman Rod Sims. “The ACCC considers that consumers are actually paying for Google’s services with their data, so this change introduced by Google has increased the ‘price’ of Google’s services, unbeknownst to consumers.”
The ACCC plans to be able to fine Google “by the million” for this activity, Sims told Reuters. While the fine is beneficial, the filing can, more importantly, establish a common point of law about what a business can potentially do to customer data and its privacy implications.
“We will continue to act, as will agencies overseas,” Sims said, “and that will shape the behavior of these platforms, to ensure that the Internet is a benefit to users, not a harm. ”
This is not the only lawsuit that Google faces for its management of personal data and user privacy. On July 15, law firm Boies Schiller Flexner accused Google of illegally collecting user data from mobile users through its apps, claiming the search giant’s assurances about privacy are “blatant lies” that do not prevent it from acquiring data and following users throughout their daily lives. life.
Despite Google’s attempts to acquire and use more user data, other companies are working to minimize the amount of data they can recover. In Apple’s case, Safari has proven useful in blocking Google Analytics and other trackers, while new features arriving in iOS 14 informing users of tracking permissions are of concern to all advertisers in Europe.