Seven consumer associations from different European countries have announced that they will lodge complaints against Google for non-compliance with the Gdpr.

The BEUC (Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs), a group representing 32 European consumer associations, is announcing this.

The initiative, informs the BEUC, starts from a new research published by the Norwegian member of the group, Forbrukerrådet. On the basis of this report, the seven consumer associations, members of the BEUC network, are moving.

Associations intend to refer Google to their national authorities for violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (Gdpr). The reference to the General Data Protection Regulation is in relation to how Google tracks the position of its users.

The seven associations are: Forbrukerrådet (Norway), Consumentenbond (Netherlands), Ekpizo (Greece), dTest (Czech Republic), Zveza Potrošnikov Kft (Slovenia), Federac

Google accused of unfair practices

Location data, explains the BEUC, can reveal a lot about people. For example religious beliefs (going to places of worship), political inclinations (taking part in demonstrations), health conditions (regular hospital visits).

The report would show, according to these associations, that Google collects data on the location of users. In particular through the functions of the site history and web and app activity. Functions that are integrated into Google user accounts.

According to associations, Google uses various ways to keep users enabled for these features. And the company would not provide users with clear information about what this actually means.

BEUC defines those of Google unfair practices that leave consumers unaware of the use of their personal data. Moreover, the company would not offer consumers a real choice other than to provide position data. Data that are then used by the company for a wide range of purposes, including targeted advertising.

GDPR and protection of personal data

These consumer associations consider such practices not to comply with the Gdpr. As Google would not have a valid legal basis for processing the data in question. In particular, the report would show that the consent given by users in these circumstances is not given freely.

Furthermore, the company could not invoke a “legitimate interest” to collect and process position data. This is because of the important and intrusive impact that this tracking has on the rights and freedoms of the individual.

Monique Goyens, Director General of the BEUC, said that “Google’s data hunger is known but the size with which it deceives its users to track and monetize their every move is shocking. Google does not respect the fundamental principles of the Gdpr, such as the obligation to use data lawfully, fairly and transparently.”

Goyens added that “The situation is more than alarming. Smartphones are used to spy on every move we make.

He said that by this initiative they intend to stop the exploitation of consumers and force these digital giants to finally assume their responsibilities.”

Google’s Answer

Reuters reports a comment on this complaint from consumer associations requested to a Google spokesperson. The latter specifies that the location history is disabled by default and you can change, delete or pause it at any time.

Google’s spokesman would have added that the company will carefully read this report to check whether there are any things to consider.

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