Personal data: Google is in the crosshairs of consumer associations in 5 European countries – photo

The European Bureau of Consumer Unions (BEUC) announced Thursday that consumer associations from five European countries, including France, have filed a complaint against Google with national authorities for the protection of personal data.

These organizations (which are also based in Greece, Norway, the Czech Republic and Slovenia) accuse the US giant of encouraging users to “allow extensive and intrusive processing” of their personal data when creating their accounts, in violation of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Associations of three other countries (Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden) have written about this to national regulators, and the German organization VZBV has sent a warning letter to Google, according to BEUC. When creating a Google account, “One step is enough to allow Google to monitor and exploit everything you do. If you want to take advantage of the privacy settings first, you face a long process and unclear and confusing options,” said BEUC Deputy Director General Ursula Bachl. “Privacy should be the default and easiest option for consumers,” she insisted.

BEUC stresses that consumers are sometimes required to create a Google account, for example when purchasing a smartphone with Android, which is related to nearly 7 out of 10 devices in the world, if they want to download apps from the Google Play Store. The French association UFC-Que Choisir noted that it, like its European counterparts, had “received numerous reports of violations” by Google in implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and sent a user complaint to the Committee Informatique et Libertés (Cnil). On the other hand, Google ensures that the options presented to users when creating an account are “clearly displayed and easy to understand”. “We developed it based on extensive research findings, guidance from data protection authorities, as well as feedback from user testing,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We are committed to making these choices simple and clear,” he added. In France, Google was sentenced in December 2021 by Cnil, a data protection policeman, to a fine of 150 million euros for its practices in relation to “cookies”, digital tracking tools used specifically for targeted advertising.

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