European consumer groups want regulators to act against Google tracking

Google is already facing a lawsuit in the United States for allegedly tracking phone users regardless of privacy settings. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 November 2018
0

European consumer groups want regulators to act against Google tracking

  • The consumer groups filed complaints with their respective national data protection authorities
  • European Consumer Organization alleges that Google uses various methods to encourage users to enable the settings ‘location history’ and ‘web and app activity’

BRUSSELS: Consumer agencies in the Netherlands, Poland and five other European Union countries asked privacy regulators on Tuesday to take action against Google for allegedly tracking the movements of millions of users in breach of the bloc’s new privacy law.
Google is already facing a lawsuit in the United States for allegedly tracking phone users regardless of privacy settings.
The consumer groups, which included those in the Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden, filed complaints with their respective national data protection authorities, based on research by their Norwegian counterpart.
Consumer lobby the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) alleges that Google uses various methods to encourage users to enable the settings ‘location history’ and ‘web and app activity’ which are integrated into all Google user accounts.
“These unfair practices leave consumers in the dark about the use of their personal data,” BEUC, speaking on behalf of the countries’ consumer groups, said.
“These practices are not compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as Google lacks a valid legal ground for processing the data in question. In particular, the report shows that users’ consent provided under these circumstances is not freely given,” it said.
GDPR, which allows users to control their data, foresees fines of up to 4 percent of global revenues for companies that break the rules.
Asked for comment on the consumer groups’ complaints, a Google spokesman said: “Location History is turned off by default, and you can edit, delete, or pause it at any time. If it’s on, it helps improve services like predicted traffic on your commute.”
“If you pause it, we make clear that — depending on your individual phone and app settings — we might still collect and use location data to improve your Google experience.”
“We’re constantly working to improve our controls, and we’ll be reading this report closely to see if there are things we can take on board,” he said.


Lost stars and World Cup hot topics on Google in 2018

Updated 2 min 40 sec ago
0

Lost stars and World Cup hot topics on Google in 2018

  • An annual summary of “top trending searches” released Tuesday by the world’s most popular online search engine was meant to reflect fresh subjects or names in which interest rocketed this year

SAN FRANCISCO: The World Cup topped a list of this year’s hottest Google search topics that turned quickly to lost stars such as Avicii, Mac Miller and Stan Lee.
An annual summary of “top trending searches” released Tuesday by the world’s most popular online search engine was meant to reflect fresh subjects or names in which interest rocketed this year.
The top term for general search as well as in a news category was “World Cup” football.
But, seven of the 10 most keenly pursued new searches for the year globally centered on rising stars or established icons who passed, among them Anthony Bourdain, Stephen Hawking and Kate Spade.
The list of top trending searches globally included US actress Meghan Markle, who married British Prince Harry, and a “Black Panther” film that debuted this year.
The Royal Wedding was ranked the fourth hottest trending topic in news, after the World Cup, Hurricane Florence, and the results of a Mega Millions lottery.
Sizzling general search topics in the United States to a large degree reflected global trends at Google this year, but the Top 10 list here included “election results” from keenly watched midterm elections.