ACCC sues Google over Australian data collection

Law court crime punishment

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking Google to court claiming the search giant did not appropriately collect user consent when its expanded data collection.

The lawsuit in question relates to a move made by Google in 2016. The search engine giant combined data collected through Google and non-Google assets to improve the accuracy of its advertising products, though the ACCC question whether the right steps to inform the user, and subsequently collect consent, were followed.

“We are taking this action because we consider Google misled Australian consumers about what it planned to do with large amounts of their personal information, including internet activity on websites not connected to Google,” said ACCC Chair Rod Sims.

“Google significantly increased the scope of information it collected about consumers on a personally identifiable basis. This included potentially very sensitive and private information about their activities on third party websites. It then used this information to serve up highly targeted advertisements without consumers’ express informed consent.”

The Australian authorities are particularly sensitive to this type of activity, though Google does not have the cleanest of records when it comes to keeping the customer in the loop. In this example, it is suggested that the information which accompanied an ‘I Agree’ pop-up was not sufficient to make an informed decision, and should there had been enough information, the ACCC believes many would have not consented.

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