Federal Court Clears Google of Wrongdoing in Expanded Use of Personal Data Case

Federal Court Clears Google of Wrongdoing in Expanded Use of Personal Data Case

In July 2020, the ACCC announced it was taking Google to court over claims the search giant didn’t get explicit consent from Australians to use their personal data in combination with their internet browsing habits in an expanded targeted advertising scheme.

The claim submitted to the court by the consumer watchdog was that Google allegedly misled consumers when it failed to properly inform them, and did not gain their explicit informed consent, about a move it made in 2016 that saw Google link a user’s identifiable information with how they interacted with non-Google sites that used Google technology.

Basically, in June 2016, Google introduced changes which, if a consumer clicked ‘I agree’ in response to the notification, allowed Google to combine personal information in consumers’ Google accounts with information about their activity on non-Google sites that used Google technology (formerly called DoubleClick technology) to display ads.

This meant that internet tracking data that had previously been kept separate from users’ Google accounts and was not linked to an individual user, was now linked to users’ names and other identifying information.

This newly combined information, the ACCC said, was used to improve Google’s advertising business.

It’s a little bit to wrap your head around, but the long and short of it was the ACCC was concerned that Google had misled consumers.

The Federal Court, however, does not share the ACCC’s concerns.

On Friday, the court dismissed the claims.

The Court found that the notification and the changes to the privacy policy were not misleading because Google sought the consent of account holders to implement the changes and only implemented the steps with their informed consent. The Court also noted that Google did not reduce account holders’ rights under the privacy policy.

The ACCC said it will now carefully consider the judgment.

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