The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today announced it is suing Google for misleading consumers about its collection and use of personal location data. The case is the consumer watchdog’s first move against a major digital platform following the publication of the Digital Platforms Inquiry Final Report in July. So what happens now?
The ACCC follows regulators in countries including the US and Germany in taking action against the way “tech giants” such as Google and Facebook harvest and exploit their users’ data.
What did Google do?
ACCC Chair Rod Sims said Google “collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers’ location without them making an informed choice”.
The ACCC alleges that Google breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by misleading its users in the course of 2017 and 2018, including by:
not properly disclosing that two different settings needed to be switched off if consumers did not want Google to collect, keep and use their location data
not disclosing on those pages that personal location data could be used for a number of purposes unrelated to the consumer’s use of Google services.
Some of the alleged breaches can carry penalties of up to A$10 million or 10% of annual turnover.
A spokesperson for Google is reported to have said the company is reviewing the allegations and engaging with the ACCC.