Australia sues Google for misleading use of personal data

The claim indicates that the technology company did not obtain explicit consent to identify consumers with their behaviour elsewhere on the internet
Logo of the American internet search company Google

AFP/TOBIAS SCHWARZ  -   Logo of the American internet search company Google

Australia's competition regulator announced on Monday that it has sued technology giant Google for allegedly misleading millions of users in this country to use their personal data between 2016 and 2018 for commercial and advertising purposes.

The case by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in Federal Court said Google did not explicitly get consent nor properly inform consumers about a 2016 move to combine personal information in Google accounts with activities on non-Google websites that use its technology.

"We believe that many consumers, if given an informed choice, may have refused Google permission to combine and use such a wide array of their personal information for Google's own financial benefit," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

During June 28, 2016 to December 2018, Google presented its users with a pop-up notification requiring their consent to allow the technology giant to collect, as well as store, data about the use of third-party portals and applications. 

Before June 2016, Google only stored and used for advertising purposes information that was clearly identifiable from its users, as well as their activities on platforms such as the search engine or YouTube.

The combination of stored personal data provided Google with valuable information that allowed it to further refine its advertising objectives, including through its Google Ad Manager and Google Marketing Platform tools. 

In October last year, the ACCC sued Google for allegedly misleading consumers about the collection, storage and use of personal location data between 2017 and 2018.