Google faces cross-European action on sign-up process

A coalition of ten European consumer organisations are taking action against Google in connection with its sign-up process. The action is being coordinated by the BEUC, who claims that language used during the process is unclear, incomplete, and misleading and this leads consumers to choose options which are less privacy-friendly.

It is alleged that the express setup route leaves settings enabled that reduce privacy, and that there is no easy way to set maximum privacy in one click.

This is not just an issue with Google (have you installed Windows 10 lately?).

As reported by the BBC at Ursula Pachl, deputy director general of the BEUC, said: “It takes one simple step to let Google monitor and exploit everything you do. If you want to benefit from privacy-friendly settings, you must navigate through a longer process and a mix of unclear and misleading options. In short, when you create a Google account, you are subjected to surveillance by design and by default. Instead, privacy protection should be the default and easiest choice for consumers.”

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires platforms to give users privacy by design and by default, and currently the same applies to the UK GDPR.

Google however maintains that all options are clearly labelled and designed to be clear and simple to understand.

A decision is expected within a matter of months, with the Irish Data Protection Commission taking the lead.

Will we ever get privacy by design and by default, I wonder, when it conflicts with the ability to sell our data and serve more targeted advertisements?