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Australia: ACCC launches federal proceedings against Google for misleading consumers to obtain consent

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ('ACCC') launched, on 27 July 2020, Federal Court proceedings against Google LLC alleging that Google misled Australian consumers in order to obtain their consent, with the aim of expanding the scope of personal information that Google could collect and combine regarding consumers' internet activity. In particular, the ACCC alleged that Google had failed to inform consumers and gain their explicit informed consent in relation to its move in 2016 to start combining personal information in consumers' Google accounts with information about those individuals' activities on non-Google sites that used Google technology, formerly DoubleClick technology, to display adverts.

In addition, the ACCC highlighted that data that had previously been kept separate, such as data about users' non-Google online activity, became linked to their names and other identifying information held by Google. Furthermore, the ACCC alleged that Google used this newly combined information to improve the commercial performance of its advertising businesses, and further misled consumers in relation to a related change to its privacy policy. In addition, the ACCC alleged that Google's conduct could have impacted millions of Australians with Google accounts.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims stated, ''The use of this new combined information allowed Google to increase significantly the value of its advertising products, from which it generated much higher profits […] The ACCC considers that consumers effectively pay for Google's services with their data, so this change introduced by Google increased the ''price'' of Google's services, without consumers' knowledge.''

You can read the press release here.