The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed suit against Google on Monday, alleging that Google misled consumers to obtain consent to expand the type of personal data that Google can collect. Google allegedly used this information for a variety of purposes, including targeted advertising.
From June 2016 through December 2018, Google account holders were prompted to agree to a pop-up Google notification that asked for consumers’ consent to combine data from both Google and non-Google sites. Google began combining personal information in Google accounts with individuals’ activities on non-Google sites that used Google technology to display advertisements. Because of this, users’ non-Google online activity became linked to Google-held identifying information, which had previously been kept separately. This linked information was used to improve Google’s advertising.
ACCC Chair Rod Sims has stated:
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.