Australia’s competition regulator on Monday accused Alphabet’s Google for misleading users to get permission for the use of their personal data for targeted advertising.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched court action against the tech giant, arguing it did not explicitly get consent nor properly inform consumers about a 2016 move to combine personal information in Google accounts with browsing activities on non-Google websites, Reuters reported.

“We consider Google misled Australian consumers about what it planned to do with large amounts of their personal information, including internet activity on websites not connected to Google,” the commission chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

Australia’s consumer watchdog alleges that in 2016, the California-based company started combining users’ data from their Google accounts with information from the same users’ activity on non-Google sites that used Google technology, to display relevant ads.

This allowed Google to link the consumers’ browsing behaviour with their names and identities, providing the company with extreme market power, the watchdog said.

“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,” Sims added.

Google said it disagrees with allegations, arguing it had sought consumers’ consent by asking them to “consent via prominent and easy-to-understand notifications.”

“If a user did not consent, their experience of our products and services remained unchanged,” a Google spokesman told Reuters.


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