In August of this year, the Internet giant Google was surprised by The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which submitted a fine of around 60 million Australian dollars to Google LLC.
This legal mess that the dominant company of the Internet got into is at the very least striking. So we have decided to explain what happened in this article and what led Google to pay this fine after months of trial.
What led Google to pay this fine?
The case itself was focused on the fact that, according to The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Google had misled its users in the collection of data. More specifically, on users’ location data.
As proven in court, it would have collected data on the location of its users even when they had this feature turned off on their devices. When Google is not granted permission to utilize this function, it should not be able to collect information from maps or the web.
Likewise, these facts would have happened between 2017 and 2018, with the main argument for the lawsuit, being data theft, and the existing information breach. Especially by collecting personal information through the web and Google applications when the user has not approved it.
Google did not explain its features well
Undoubtedly, this court decision is entirely directed at Google’s failure to explain or make good use of its data collection system. Users who had blocked this feature were still generating information about their location through the web and additional applications.
Information that could easily have been used by Google for ad placement or selling products to users. Even though they had turned off the functions that would allow this.
This is directly attacking the free will of the user who had decided to protect their personal data and was attacked by the poorly explained “web & apps” policy.
An attack on the explicit decision of the users.
In any case, the major point taken in the trial was the fact that the users denied the possibility of data collection. That is, they were explicitly against Google collecting their personal information data, which the company ignored.
A before and after
What is clear is that for this trial, even if the amount of money involved is relatively low, it could mean a before and after for Google, which could make the security committees in different countries around the world become more attentive to their actions.
This is given that in addition to the fine, Google LLCC is imposed to train its team to the data security laws of Australia. Action that, knowing the company, will undoubtedly be carried out not only in the Oceanic country but also in its teams in the rest of the world.
In any case, Google broke up into 3 Australian consumer protection laws. For illegal data collection, the susceptibility to misleading the public and lying when explaining the features of the product. Unusual considering Google’s size in the internet market.
How many people were affected?
According to reports given in the case, about 1.3 million Australians experienced this inconvenience. So the federal court imposed the sanctions it found appropriate in the face of such a serious problem.
Also given that not only Google took this data, but used it for its own benefit. Giving it purpose in its marketing team for the placement of advertisements strategically thoughtout according to the data collected.
A way to send a message not only to Google
With this lawsuit, the Australian federal court sends a message not only to Google but also to the whole world. This a message that they can stand up and protect user data from these technology companies that do not consider the user’s consent.
There is no doubt that today’s world moves based on data, whoever has the most information about the user will have the upper hand. Therefore, technology companies are constantly looking for ways to collect information about the user to better market to them.
This is because marketing studies demonstrate the fact that personalized advertising is the evolution of marketing as such. It is becoming more and more common to see advertising that is clearly related to your interests while on the Internet. This is thanks to data collection and its uses in the advertising field.
How much are 60 million Australian dollars?
The 60 million Australian dollars imposed as a fine to Google is a figure that may not sound so crazy, especially when we make the transition to foreign currencies.
This is equivalent to 41.3 million euros and 42.7 million US dollars. This is a figure not at all improper for a company like Google that earns more than 200 billion dollars per year.
So rather than dealing an economic blow to the company, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has managed to deal a blow to Google’s morale. This blow clearly related to the difficulty of understanding the data collection policies.
Byrne, Elizabeth. “Google Fined $60 Million for Misleading Some Australian Mobile Users about Collection of Location Data – ABC News.” ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), ABC News, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-12/google-fined-60m-misleading-mobile-users-location-data/101329790.
“Google LLC to Pay $60 Million for Misleading Representations | ACCC.” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/google-llc-to-pay-60-million-for-misleading-representations#.
Mason, Max. “Google Hit with $60m Penalty for Misleading Data Claims.” Australian Financial Review, Australian Financial Review, https://www.afr.com/technology/google-hit-with-60m-penalty-for-misleading-data-claims-20220812-p5b9h5.
For years I have studied American finance regulations. All the information in this blog is sourced from official or contrasted sources from reliable sites.
Salesforce Certified SALES & SERVICE Cloud Consultant in February 2020, Salesforce Certified Administrator (ADM-201), and Master degree in “Business Analytics & Big Data Strategy” with more than 13 years of experience in IT consulting.