The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to investigate claims that internet giant Google has violated the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
It follows a series of complaints filed with the ICO over the company’s data collection practices. The company has faced similar complaints and investigations in jurisdictions across the European Union, many of them filed by privacy activists.
While Google claimed that it reworked its ‘transparency tools’ to better comply with the EU data protection regulation when it came-in in May 2018, it still offers consumers no option to opt out of data collection, other than to close all their accounts and request that their data is deleted.
The ICO confirmed the investigation to the Daily Telegraph, adding that it is working with regulators across the EU to consider their next steps.
An ICO spokesman said: “This is mainly due to people becoming more informed about their rights and exercising them, which has generated greater engagement as organisations turn to us for advice.
“Google is an organisation that offers products and services to a large number of individuals both in the UK and worldwide. We have received complaints regarding Google which are being reviewed.”
Google could be fined as much as four per cent of its $136.8 billion 2018 global turnover.
The news comes less than two weeks after the company was fined €50 million by French data protection regulator CNIL over similar claims.
CNIL had concluded that users were “not sufficiently informed” about how Google collected data to personalise advertising and had failed to obtain a valid legal basis to process user data. In effect, it accused Google of obfuscating the information it provides to internet users about the level of information it collects about them.
“Essential information, such as the data processing purposes, the data storage periods or the categories of personal data used for the ads personalisation, are excessively disseminated across several documents, with buttons and links on which it is required to click to access complementary information,” the regulator wrote.
Google is in the process of appealing against the fine.