Google targeted by five complaints from European consumer associations

Five European consumer defense associations, including UFC-Que Choisir, are filing a complaint against Google for the “processing and invasive” of the personal data of its users.

Google’s “monitoring system” denounced by complaints from consumer associations to national personal data protection authorities. This was announced on Thursday by the European Bureau of Consumers’ Unions (Beuc), which brings together 46 European associations for the defense of consumer rights.

Five organizations – deployed in France, Greece, Norway, the Czech Republic and Slovenia – accuse the American giant of inciting users to “authorize extensive and invasive processing” of their personal data when creating their account, in violation of the General Regulations on European data protection (GDPR).

Facilitate privacy protection

At the same time, the national associations of three other countries (Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden) have written about this to their national regulators. For its part, the German organization VZBV sent a warning letter to Google before possibly launching legal proceedings, specifies Beuc.

When creating a Google account, “one step is all it takes to authorize [l’entreprise américaine] to monitor and exploit everything you do. If you want to benefit from the privileged parameters of privacy protection, you are faced with a long process and unclear and confusing options”, denounced the deputy director general of Beuc, Ursula Pachl.

And to insist: “Privacy should be the default and easiest choice for consumers.”

Le Beuc points out that consumers are sometimes obliged to create a Google account, for example when they buy a smartphone using the Android system, which concerns nearly 7 out of 10 devices in the world, if they want to download applications from Google Play Store.

“Easy to understand” options, according to Google

The French association UFC-Que Choisir indicated that, like its European counterparts, it had “received numerous reports attesting to breaches” by Google in the application of the GDPR and transmitted a user’s complaint to the Commission Informatique et Libertés (Cnil ).

Google, on the other hand, ensures that the options offered to users when they create an account “are clearly presented and easy to understand”.

“We have developed [ces options] based on extensive research results, and according to guidelines from data protection authorities, as well as user testing feedback,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We are committed to make those choices simple and clear,” he added.

In France, Google was sentenced in December 2021 by the Cnil to a fine of 150 million euros for not simplifying the refusal of “cookies”, these digital tracers used in particular for targeted advertising.

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