Australian watchdog accuses Google of privacy breaches

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s consumer watchdog launched court action against Google yesterday alleging the technology giant misled account holders about its use of their personal data.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) action in the Federal Court is the latest litigation Google has faced around the world over allegations of privacy breaches.

The commission alleges the California-based company misled millions of Australians to obtain their consent and expand the scope of personal information that Google collects about users’ Internet activity to target advertising.

The allegations arise from Google’s move in 2016 to start combining users’ personal information in their Google accounts with information from the same users’ activity on non-Google sites that used Google technology, formerly DoubleClick technology, to display ads.

“We allege that Google did not obtain explicit consent from customers to take this step,” the commission’s chair, Rod Sims, said in a statement.

“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.