Australian government sues Google for misleading consumers in data collection

From June 2016 to December 2018, Google account holders were met with a pop-up that explained “optional features” to accounts regarding how the company collected their data. Consumers could click “I agree,” and Google would begin collecting a “wide range of personally identifiable information” from them, according to the ACCC. The lawsuit contends that the pop-up didn’t adequately explain what consumers were agreeing to.

“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,” said ACCC Chair Rod Sims. Had more consumers sufficiently understood Google’s change in policy, many may not have consented to it, according to the ACCC.

Google told the Associated Press it disagrees with the ACCC’s allegations, and says Google account holders had been asked to “consent via prominent and easy-to-understand notifications.” It’s unclear what penalty the ACCC is seeking with the lawsuit.

Last October, the ACCC sued Google claiming the company misled Android users about the ability to opt out of location tracking on phones and tablets. That case is headed to mediation next week, according to a February Computer World article.

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