Google is hit with big fine over Aussie privacy law breaches

By our News Team | 2022

Watchdog says the court’s decision sends a strong message to digital platforms and other businesses that they cannot mislead consumers.

Google has been ordered to pay AUS$60-million (US$41.5-million) in penalties by Australia’s Federal court for misleading representations it made to consumers about the collection and use of their personal location data.

The case, which was brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), refers to location data on Android phones between January 2017 and December 2018.

The court previously found that Google had breached Australian consumer law by representing to some Android users that the ‘location history’ setting was the only one that affected whether Google collected, kept and used personally identifiable location data.

Consumer Privacy

Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

But the ACCC claimed that another Google account setting called ‘web & app activity’ also allowed Google to collect, store and use personally identifiable location data when it was turned on, and that the setting was turned on by default.

More than one million accounts potentially impacted

There were an estimated 1.3-million Google accounts in Australia that might have been affected, according to the commission.

Google had addressed all of the points raised by 20th December 2018. The ACCC and Google both jointly submitted to the court that a penalty of AU$60-million was therefore appropriate.

The case is the first public enforcement to come out of the ACCC’s digital platforms inquiry. Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Chair of the ACCC, said: “This significant penalty imposed by the court sends a strong message to digital platforms and other businesses, large and small, that they must not mislead consumers about how their data is being collected and used.

“Personal location data is sensitive and important to some consumers, and some of the users who saw the representations may have made different choices about the collection, storage and use of their location data if the misleading representations had not been made by Google.”

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.