Australia's consumer watchdog launches legal action against Google

Google Misled Australians About Personal Data and Targeted Ads, ACCC Alleges

In Australian Federal Court, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accused Google of not explicitly getting consent or properly informing consumers of a 2016 move to combine personal information in Google accounts with browsing activities on non-Google websites.

The information has previously not been linked to individual users.

The ACCC also alleges that Google misled consumers with a change to its privacy policy on 28 June 2016, related to the ad tracking change.

The policy also states "We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent", which the ACCC alleges Google failed to acquire.

"It then used this information to serve up highly targeted advertisements without consumers' express informed consent", ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a media release. It is noted that the use of combined information has contributed to the fact that Google has significantly increased the cost of its advertising products to generate more profit.

"The ACCC considers that consumers effectively pay for Google's services with their data, so this change introduced by Google increased the "price" of Google's services, without consumers' knowledge", Sims added.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleges that the USA based company misled millions of users in the country to get consent and personal information and collected their internet browsing data for targeted advertising. Consumers could click "I agree", and Google would begin collecting a "wide range of personally identifiable information" from them, according to the ACCC.

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The industry watchdog alleges data about users' non-Google online activity was linked to identifying information, such as their names, from mid-2016 and used in combination to improve the digital giant's advertising performance. The conduct is likely to impact millions of Australians with Google accounts as the Search engine giant could collect and combine personal data about consumers' internet activity, for other use by the company, including for targeted advertising.

The changes are alleged to have impacted millions of Australians holding Google accounts.

The exact claims made by the ACCC are specific and nuanced so we recommend you follow the link below and parse the information for yourself.

However, a Google spokesperson denied the allegations and said that the company is ready to defend its position in court.

It is alleging that Google misled its users and did not properly obtain their consent for this combination of data, which allowed for more targeted advertising to be displayed by users.

The case is the second attempt by the ACCC to take Google to court in nine months after the watchdog claimed in October previous year that the company misled users about the way it collects, stores and uses location data.

Countless accounts are considered to have been affected from 28 June 2016 till at least December 2018. But in a 2012 update, Google merged all the privacy policies, making it even more complicated for users to understand. Recently, the U.S. and European lawmakers have stepped up to focus on how tech companies treat user data privacy concerns. The form announced "new features" that gave users "more control over the data Google collects and how it's used", and said it would be easier to review and control this data. In India, Google was slapped with an anti-trust case for allegedly forcing mobile manufacturers to include Google applications in exchange for full-fledged Android version.

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