European consumer groups have accused Google of violating online privacy by tricking users into blindly signing into a Google account so that their data is tracked and exploited for profit.
Last week, Google’s registration process came under fire from consumer rights organizations in the European Union, which filed new privacy complaints. The complaint alleges that Google intentionally designs default settings to mislead new users and ensure that they can collect and share a wide variety of personal information.
These claims are made under the EU GDPR rules, a European data privacy regulation that aims to ensure that the personal data of Europeans is not misused. In particular, the group accuses Google of using “deceptive design, unclear language, and misleading choices” in the registration process.
Complaint about Google’s registration process
“Contrary to what Google claims about consumer privacy, tens of millions of Europeans were put on the fast track to surveillance when they opened a Google account,” said Ursula Pachl, deputy director of BEUC (European Bureau of Consumers’ Unions). Indeed, it is much too complicated for BEUC and its members to personalize their registration, as they almost have to follow 5 steps and 10 clicks to enter a manual registration process, which should be more transparent with users about the data they share. However, the information provided as part of this manual registration is unclear, leaving consumers making choices without a transparent understanding of how their personal data will be processed.
Google is accused of not offering an option to disable tracking altogether The whole process is branded sleazy and opaque and used for purposes that only benefit Google. However, Google regularly assures that it “protects your privacy”. The US company strongly rejects the accusation that the options presented are unclear, pointing out that they were designed based on extensive research and feedback from website testers.
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