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Google Accused of Misleading Users on Personal Data for Targeted Advertising

David Paul

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Google

Australia’s competition regulator has accused the tech giant of using data permission collected in a misleading way to target users.

Google’s parent company Alphabet has supposedly misled its customers on the use of their personal data to target them with advertising.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says that the company mislead Australian consumers about the use of their personal information, including internet activity.

The company has also been accused of looking to “set a precedent” for the future of data usage and seeking a fine worth millions of dollars.

The ACCC says that Google failed to gain consent after its move to combine personal information in Google accounts with browsing activities on non-Google websites.

In June 2016, Google changed the wording of its privacy policy, removing a statement that it would not combine cookie data from its DoubleClick advertisement display business with users’ personal information.

Commission chairman Rod Sims said: “This change… was worth a lot of money to Google. We allege they’ve achieved it through misleading behaviour.

“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,” Sims said.

“Google significantly increased the scope of information it collected about consumers on a personally identifiable basis.

“This included potentially very sensitive and private information about their activities on third-party websites,” Mr Sims added.

“The use of this new combined information allowed Google to increase significantly the value of its advertising products, from which it generated much higher profits.

“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.”

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Google has said that any changes made to their systems were optional, and users had the option to opt-out if they did not want to share their information.

A spokesperson from the company said: “If a user did not consent, their experience of our products and services remained unchanged.”

Google is no stranger to controversy. Last week it was discovered that the organisation was allowing employees to access information Android users and their interaction with third-party apps.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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