Facebook, Google and Microsoft accused of breaching GDPR with 'unethical' user manipulation

Facebook on a phone

Following Facebook's massive privacy scandal, the European Union took a strong stance on the issue and passed the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, to protect the data everyday users share with companies online.

It picked Facebook, Google, and Microsoft for the study as they are some of the world's largest digital service-providers. As a effect, users were bombarded with a lot of e-mail and pop-ups labeled as "update to privacy policies".

As a result of the Norwegian Consumer Council report, eight consumer advocacy groups are calling on the FTC to "investigate the misleading and manipulative tactics of Google and Facebook in steering users to "consent" to privacy-invasive default settings".

The 44-page report cites examples of how Facebook, Google and, to a lesser degree, Microsoft have used dark patterns to their benefit. The NCC report, titled "Deceived By Design", explains just how these dark patterns are being implemented by internet companies.

The report said this nudging of users toward "the least privacy friendly options" is unethical, and questions whether consent given in these circumstances is in fact explicit, informed and freely given.

A collection of privacy advocacy groups joined Forbrukerrådet in writing to the Chair of the European Data Protection Board, the EU body in charge of the application of GDPR, to bring the report to its attention. This means that a service is configured to protect privacy and transparency. Their privacy must be protected even if they don't opt out of data collection options.

Besides privacy intrusive default settings and hiding away privacy-friendly choices, the service providers were found to be using "misleading wording", giving users "an illusion of control", and having a "take-it-or-leave-it" approach.

Facebook's GDPR pop-up failed the data protection by default test, according to the report.

Hundreds of Women's March Protesters Arrested in Senate Office Building
Amnesty International USA, the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Women's March are among them . Pramila Jayapal was one of those who were detained on Thursday, before being released with a fine.

In terms of design, the user is shown a blue box to accept facial scanning, but the option to decline is hidden within a page only accessible by clicking on "manage data settings", making acceptance the easier option.

Facebook was equally flawed in its choices around facial recognition, which it has recently introduced in Europe after a six-year hiatus due to privacy concerns.

The other groups that signed the FTC letter are Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Public Citizen and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

If the aim is to lead users in a certain direction, making the process toward the alternatives a long and arduous process can be an effective dark pattern.

Facebook also released a statement to Gizmodo that is very reminiscent of the one they gave late last month when privacy activist Max Schrems filed official complaints against tech companies, three of which were against Facebook and the Facebook-owned Instagram and Whatsapp: "We have prepared for the past 18 months to ensure we meet the requirements of the GDPR".

The investigators also criticized Facebook for wording that strongly nudged users in a certain direction.

They also obscure some of these settings so that the user can not know that the more privacy intrusive option was pre-selected.

The wording Facebook uses states that "if you keep face recognition turned off, we won't be able to use this technology if a stranger uses your photo to impersonate you".

Related News:

  • Greta Gerwig to Direct New 'Little Women' Adaptation

    Greta Gerwig to Direct New 'Little Women' Adaptation

    Little Women centers on the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, on their journey to womanhood, guided by their Marmee. Stay tuned for more on Greta Gerwig's Little Women as further updates becomes available.
    Leahy grills Pompeo on North Korea, Iran nukes

    Leahy grills Pompeo on North Korea, Iran nukes

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that North Korea remains a nuclear threat, but defended Trump's previous comment. While these sites can not be detected by monitoring groups, they are assumed to remain operational, according to Wit.
    Five dead, others wounded at Maryland newspaper shooting

    Five dead, others wounded at Maryland newspaper shooting

    He also said there was "one victim who attempted to escape through the backdoor and was shot at that point". Among the victims was veteran journalist and columnist Rob Hiaasen , 59, brother of novelist Carl Hiaasen.
  • Moto Z3 Force may arrive on August 2

    Update: According to the information we've received, Motorola is testing this Android 9.0 P Beta build in China. Unfortunately, as these are leaked press renders, it's hard to identify other small differences.

    European Union leaders agree on migration after late-night summit

    He has threatened to start turning away migrants who have already registered elsewhere from the border in his home state. At the summit, the European Union leaders agreed upon a "new approach" to managing those who are plucked from the water.
    Angelina Jolie Channels Meghan Markle At Royal Event

    Angelina Jolie Channels Meghan Markle At Royal Event

    Surprisingly, this appearance of hers went in the opposite direction with an unlikely soft, sophisticated appeal. The Oscar victor was made an honorary dame by Queen Elizabeth in 2014 in recognition of her humanitarian work.
  • Nissan GT-R50 commemorates five decades of GT-R and Italdesign

    Nissan GT-R50 commemorates five decades of GT-R and Italdesign

    Filling the arches are custom 21-inch alloy wheels (21x10 front, 21x10.5 rear), wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. The GT-R's "samurai sword" air vents aft of the front wheels have been lengthened and are again embellished with gold inlays.
    Tessa Thompson Says She Loves Janelle Monae 'Deeply,' Comes Out as Bisexual

    Tessa Thompson Says She Loves Janelle Monae 'Deeply,' Comes Out as Bisexual

    As for her relationship with Monáe, Thompson didn't quite confirm they were a couple, but she did call the singer "her person". "I can take things for granted because of my family ― it's so free and you can be anything that you want to be", she said .
    Epic Games Aims to Re-Release ‘Fortnite’ Playground Mode ASAP

    Epic Games Aims to Re-Release ‘Fortnite’ Playground Mode ASAP

    In a tweet , the developer says: "We're continuing to test improvements that are needed to enable the Playground LTM". The Fortnite Playground mode was closed for repairs less than two hours after the LTM was launched.
  • Southgate: Germany's exit has no bearing on England

    Southgate: Germany's exit has no bearing on England

    Die Mannschaft slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat against South Korea this afternoon leaving them bottom of Group F. Well, one of them is going to end that drought on Tuesday when they meet for the first time at the World Cup.

    Maryland newspaper shooting suspect barricaded the exit doors

    In the 2011 article that Ramos sued over, his lawyer said he had a degree in computer engineering and worked for the U.S. He had a long, acrimonious history with the newspaper, including a lawsuit and years of harassment of its journalists .
    Drake Confirms He's a Father In Lyrics Off 'Scorpion'

    Drake Confirms He's a Father In Lyrics Off 'Scorpion'

    Hours after releasing his fifth studio album, Drake has hailed Nigerian singers Wizkid and Tekno for inspiring the new project . Drake's music career took off in 2010 when he released debut album Thank Me Later, which debuted number one in the U.S. charts.


Most liked

The education from World Cup football
A team only begins to gel later at the tournament, so it makes sense to bring some [players] in and let it go easy on them. Reigning world champions Germany were dumped out during the group stages after a horror showing in Russian Federation .

LeBron James meeting with advisors in ‘Decision Cave’
Perhaps he wants to finish his career in Cleveland as he has said in the past - this deal would allow him to do so. Windhorst suggested that the meeting between James and Magic Johnson will be critical for the Lakers' chances.

MLS player comes out as gay in Pride Night statement
Minnesota United is an American professional soccer team based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area in the United States. A professional football player has announced he's gay, prior to a pride night being held by his football team.

Man United still interested in signing Belgium worldwide
The midfielder is now on World Cup duty with Belgium and played the full 90 minutes in the 1-0 win over England on Thursday night. However, he insists that Fellaini won't be the key ingredient that restores United to Premier League glory.

Kroos sad and angry after 'black day'
England and Belgium face off in their final Group G encounter on Thursday, with an eye on who they will play in the knockout. Korea, ranked 57th in the world, scored twice during injury time in the second half to dispatch Germany .

Jim Mattis assures South Korea on US. troops, says commitment 'ironclad'
Mattis will continue meeting Chinese officials through this morning, and then fly to Seoul and Tokyo. Secretary of Defense met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing .

Woman Falls Through Convenience Store Ceiling Trying To Run From Police
Finding the only door locked, he returned to the front of the store and attempted to sprint out. Chauhan said the couple was buying a soda for $4.39. "I'm very proud of him", Chauhan said.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Specifications, Key Features Detailed in Hands-On Coverage
The big change will be the S Pen, which has been "completely reworked", according to the report. There will also be an upgrade in the Optical Image Stabilisation compared to its predecessor.

Who has the better free agent pitch team?
You remember, the report that had James texting the Warriors' Kevin Durant suggesting they play together on the Lakers? That doesn't mean the rumor mill hasn't stopped churning, with much of the focus on how he might land with the Lakers.

Trump Is Upset Congress Failed To Pass an Immigration Law
The administration also released a formal policy statement saying the White House backed the legislation. But the reality is "this would've been a whole lot more helpful a week ago", the aide said.

Thomas Markle: 'The queen has no excuse not to meet me'
Meghan , Harry and The Queen will appear together last today as they attended the Queen Young Leaders awards reception . The Duchess completed the lovely look with a pair of black Aquazzura heels and a matching "Saffiano" clutch by Prada .

OnePlus fully commits to Android updates - time to get a OnePlus 6?
This schedule applies to all OnePlus 3/3T, OnePlus 5/5T, OnePlus 6 devices and will be effective immediately. Case in point is the OnePlus 2T, which debuted in November 2016, and was denied the Android Oreo update.

Comcast internet, video, voice goes down for some U.S. customers
The Comcast issues we were experiencing earlier today have been resolved, and the number of downdetector .com reports is dropping. Many on Twitter are calling out the company since they can not get through on the customer service line.

Lewis Hamilton expects F1 title boost from Mercedes upgrades in Austria
So we just need to see how it goes into racing and if it's not like Mario Kart where I pass, then you pass, then I pass back". This weekend's Austrian Grand Prix is expected to be another close race between Mercedes and Ferrari.

Suarez: Uruguay focused on Portugal and Ronaldo
However, they have lost their last three games in the World Cup knockout stages (1 goal scored, 5 conceded). I hope my team is up to the task then Ronaldo will make the difference".