Google denies ACCC accusations in privacy policy defence
Google denies ACCC accusations in privacy policy defence

Google silent on privacy policy changes impacting millions

Google has admitted it failed to tell millions of Australians about privacy policy changes when it sought their permission to use personal information to allegedly target ads with greater precision.

However, the internet giant argues in a landmark Federal Court case that it "was not required to" tell account holders because the privacy update "was not inconsistent" with the data use consent it was seeking through a "new features" notification.

Google's explanation is contained in its defence to legal action that the Australian Competition & Consumer Com­mission has brought alleg­ing misleading or deceptive conduct.

 

Google has been found to have kept secret changes to its privacy policy.
Google has been found to have kept secret changes to its privacy policy.


The case is set against the backdrop of a broader stoush that includes the ACCC's world-first bid to get major digital platforms, including Google, to pay for news content used to help draw in their massive audiences.

The Federal Court action is one of two the ACCC has launched against Google in the past year. Among the key accusations is that Google deprived millions of Australians of the opportunity to make an informed choice about the collection and use of personal information. It alleges this information allowed Google to increase the value of its advertising products.

In an amended statement, the ACCC said the June 2016 privacy update allowed Google to combine data from third-party sites with their activities on Google services.

It accused Google of failing to tell 13.5 million users about the privacy update in a "new features" notification that was active for the next two-and-a-half years.

Eighty per cent of account holders agreed to the "new ­features" being turned on.

 

Google has denied all the allegations made against it.
Google has denied all the allegations made against it.

 

Google has denied the ACCC's accusations of misleading or deceptive conduct in its recently filed defence, which The Daily Telegraph obtained from the court.

Google said it "designed and deployed a prominent and easy-to-understand opt-in consent mechanism" for the new features notification.

Google said it "admits the notification did not refer to the June 2016 privacy update" because it "was not required to".

"The June 2016 privacy update was not inconsistent with the notification," it told the court.

"The allegations … are neither a complete nor an accurate account of the manner in which Google conveyed the proposed changes to account holders and sought their consent," Google said.

"The effect of the changes to the privacy policy ensured that the privacy policy remained accurate and up-to-date. The changes did not reduce account holders' rights under the privacy policy."

Originally published as Google silent on privacy policy changes impacting millions


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