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Consumer Groups Say Google Sign-Up is a ‘Fast Track to Surveillance’

Consumer Groups Say Google Sign-Up is a ‘Fast Track to Surveillance’
Source: BBC

A group of 10 consumer organizations in Europe have joined forces to take legal action against Google over the way customers sign up for accounts.

Many of Google’s goods and services require you to have an account in order to utilize them.

However, the group asserts that the registration procedure directs users toward choices that gather more data.

Google informed the media that it appreciated the chance to discuss the issue with consumer activists.

The business said that sincerity and openness were necessary for gaining the trust of customers, and that it had bet “our future success on establishing increasingly simpler, more accessible controls and providing consumers clearer options.

“And, equally crucial, using less data to do more.”

The coalition’s coordinator, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), asserts that Google’s registration wording is “unclear, incomplete, and deceptive,” which causes many customers to choose less privacy-friendly choices.

Because of this, according to BEUC, “tens of millions of Europeans have been put on a fast track to monitoring when they signed up for a Google account.”

The consumer group thinks the crucial moment when Google asks consumers to select how their account will function is during sign-up.

However, it claims that even the simplest one-step “express personalization” procedure results in account settings for customers that “fuel Google’s monitoring activities.”

Additionally, the consumer group claims that consumers cannot switch all settings “off” with a single click on Google.

Instead, according to BEUC, it takes five clicks and ten steps to disable the trackers Google wants to enable on a new account. These trackers are related to site and app activity, YouTube history, and individualized advertising on their account.

The BEUC’s deputy director general, Ursula Pachl, said: “It only takes one easy step to allow Google to track and profit from everything you do. There is a lengthy procedure and a variety of ambiguous and deceptive alternatives to sift through if you want to take advantage of privacy-friendly settings.

“In summary, when you open a Google account, you are under surveillance by design and by default,” Ms. Pachl continued. Instead, customers should have the option to preserve their privacy by default.

Platforms must provide users with privacy by default and design in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU.

Google, however, insists that all options are properly labeled and created to be understandable and simple to use.

According to the firm, they are founded on in-depth analysis, regulatory recommendations, and testing.

It informed the media “People ought to be able to comprehend how data is produced as a result of their usage of online services. They need to be able to change it if they don’t like it.”

Members of the BEUC from the Czech Republic, Norway, Greece, France, and Slovenia have complained to their country’s data protection authorities about Google’s compliance with the GDPR, and organizations from Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands have written to their own authorities to express their concerns.

Google has received a letter of caution from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations.