Australia watchdog sues Google over data practices - Mobile World Live

Australia watchdog sues Google over data practices

27 JUL 2020

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed a case against Google in federal court alleging it misled consumers about the expanded use of personal data for a targeted advertising programme.

In a statement, ACCC said the company didn’t seek consumers’ explicit consent and failed to inform them when it started combining personal information in their accounts with data about their activities on non-Google sites “that used Google technology, formerly DoubleClick technology, to display ads”, in 2016.

ACCC chair Rod Sims (pictured) said: “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.”

“Google significantly increased the scope of information it collected about consumers” which it used “to serve up highly targeted advertisements without consumers’ express informed consent”.

The ACCC argues the resulting boost to the commercial performance of Google’s advertising business was akin to a price increase for consumers, which “effectively pay” for the company’s services “with their data”, Sims said.

ACCC also alleges millions of Australian’s were misled about a related change to Google’s privacy policy from 28 June 2016 until at least December 2018, when they were prompted to agree to a pop-up notification which purported to explain how the company planned to combine their data, and sought consent.

Google faced a number of obstacles in Australia over the past two years, with the government in April detailing plans to require tech giants to share advertising revenue with domestic publishers, directing ACCC to develop a code of conduct to address perceived imbalances in bargaining power between news media businesses and digital platforms.

In December 2019 the government accepted key ACCC recommendations to work on reform of digital platforms, with the consumer body previously proposing Google and Facebook be overseen by a new regulatory body.



Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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