Data privacy has grown to be a major issue for big tech companies over the years in the US and the EU as lawyers have started raising questions on how these companies treat user data. Alphabet’s Google yet again faced a lawsuit on Monday for misleading customers to get permission for use of their personal data for targeted advertising, seeking a fine “in the millions”.
Google was accused by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as they allegedly didn’t inform the customers properly when they combined personal information in Google Accounts with browsing activities on non-Google platforms in 2016.
The Commission chairman, Rod Sims said “This change was worth a lot of money to Google. 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.”
However, Google defended its position by saying that the change was optional and user consent was sought through easy-to-understand notifications.
Google’s history with lawsuits
On 2nd June 2020, Google had faced a $5 billion lawsuit for illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode. Alphabet Inc was accused of secretly collecting information about what people searched and where they browse, despite browsing in the Incognito mode.
The complaint was filed in San Jose, California. According to a report by Reuters, Google allegedly tracked user activities in private mode using Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, and website plug-ins. Users open the incognito mode thinking that their data is safe and that amounts to misrepresentation.
Google “cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone,” the complaint said. A Google spokesman, Jose Castaneda said “we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab; websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity” while defending Google vigorously against these claims.