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Google to Improve Data Control in Response to German Antitrust Watchdog

 |  October 5, 2023

Germany’s antitrust watchdog raised initial objections regarding Google’s data practices back in January. Now, Google has agreed to make changes to provide users with more control over their data usage, according to the Federal Cartel Office (FCO) of Germany.

The commitments made by Google apply to situations where the company wants to combine personal data from one Google service with data from other Google or non-Google sources or use this data across separate Google services.

In the future, Google will be required to offer its users the option to provide clear and informed consent for data processing across its services. This will include providing choices for data combinations without employing manipulative tactics, known as “dark patterns.”

Read more: German Watchdog Probes Google’s Car-Tech Packages

We have reached out to Google for their comments on these developments and to inquire about the rollout plans, including whether it will extend beyond Germany, reported TechCrunch. It is likely that Google will implement similar changes across the European Union to comply with competition rules.

According to the FCO decision document, these commitments apply to all Google services directed at end users in Germany with more than one million monthly active users, including Android Automotive. However, Google’s core platform services designated under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Fitbit are not covered, as Fitbit is already subject to extensive obligations regarding the processing of health and wellness data due to EU merger control.

This announcement from the FCO essentially forces Google to undo its privacy policy consolidation decision from January 2012, which combined over 60 separate privacy notices into one overarching policy. While Google claimed this move would simplify the user experience, it also allowed the company to gather more personal data, enhancing its ability to profile users and bolstering its ad-targeting business, which posed challenges for competitors without its scale in web services.

Source: Tech Crunch