Daily Management Review

Australian Watchdog Claims Users Were Misled By Google Over Private Data Collection


Australian Watchdog Claims Users Were Misled By Google Over Private Data Collection
Australia’s competition regulator has said that the United States based search engine giant Alphabet Inc's Google had misled a section of consumers about the collection of their personal location data through their Android devices as found by the country’s federal court.
It is seeking declarations and penalties from Google, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said but did not mention any specific amount for the penalties it is seeking to obtain.
"This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the Court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.
A number of specific Google settings that are related to the collection of location data, location history and 'web & app activity' is at the core of the case.
The claims by Google that it could collect user information related only to the  location history setting on user devices between January 2017 and December 2018 was not corre3ct and the company had lied about its claims, the court has found.
Contrary to the claims made by Google, the firm could collect, store and use the data if a setting to control web and application activity was turned on. The court found that the control was generally turned on by default on most of the Android devices.
The court found that the company had not informed the users that if they had turned off location history while leaving the "Web & App Activity" setting on would allow Google to continue to gather their personal data.
It was now up to the court to decide on what it considers a breach and how many occurred. However the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) quoted the ACCC chairman Rod Simms as saying that the regulator would ask the court for imposing a penalty in the "many millions" on Google for the “breach”.
The company was reviewing its options, a Google spokesman told the media.
"The court rejected many of the ACCC’s broad claims. We disagree with the remaining findings and are currently reviewing our options, including a possible appeal," the spokesman said.
Over the recent months, a number of legal actions have been taken ion Australia against the tech giant with the government first considere3d and then passed a law to make Google and Facebook make payments to the local media outlets whose content was being used by boht the online platform giants.