the anti-cartel policeman warns Google about personal data

the anti-cartel policeman warns Google about personal data

The Google stand at a digital media conference in Berlin on June 9, 2022 (Tobias SCHWARZ/AFP/Archives)

The German competition policeman called on Wednesday Google to better ensure the consent of its users for the processing of their data, via its various services, in a “preliminary” decision, which could lead to coercive measures against the American giant. .

“The company must give users enough choice about how their data is handled,” Anti-Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt said in a statement.

If it is for the moment only a “warning”, not binding, coercive measures could be taken against Google “during the year”, if nothing changes, according to the Office.

Concretely, the regulator accuses Google of “accumulating a large amount of data from its various services”, such as “Google Search, YouTube, Google Play, Google Maps”. These operations allow it to create “very detailed profiles” of its users, which it can then sell to advertisers.

However, users “do not have sufficient choice to decide whether they agree with this vast inter-service processing of their data”, according to the Office. The choices currently offered are indeed “too little transparent and global”.

The chairman of the German Anti-Cartel Office, Andreas Mundt, at a press conference in Bonn, February 7, 2019.
German Anti-Cartel Office Chairman Andreas Mundt at a press conference in Bonn on February 7, 2019 (Rolf Vennenbernd / dpa/AFP/Archives)

For the competition policeman, users must be able to limit the processing of their data “to a single service”, or “depending on its purpose”. It must also not be “easier” for users to give their consent to the “inter-service” processing of their data than to refuse. Which is currently the case, according to the Office.

In a press release sent to AFP, Google assured “to continue (its) constructive dialogue with the German competition authority, in order to respond to their concerns”. “Google is expected to conduct its business responsibly” by meeting “regulators’ expectations,” the company added.

This “warning” is part of a procedure opened by the German anti-trust against Google at the beginning of last year, in application of a new law which came into force in 2021. This allows in particular to take immediate measures to prevent certain anti-competitive practices by companies in a situation of market domination, which is the case of Google, according to the competition policeman.

Under this text, investigations had been launched against Facebook, Amazon and Google. They are part of a context of offensive against the American digital giants in recent years in several European countries and on the part of the EU authorities who are calling on these companies to strengthen their regulation.