Complaints Trigger Google Privacy Probe By Ireland’s Watchdog

location data smartphone

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) in Ireland is launching an official inquiry into how Google processes its users’ location data.

The DPC announced on Tuesday (Feb. 4) that following a number of complaints concerning Google’s practice of collecting users’ location data, it is conducting its own inquiry. Issues were raised across the European Union about “the legality of Google’s processing of location data and the transparency surrounding that processing.” 

The inquiry is looking into whether Google has a “valid legal basis” for scraping users’ location data and if it “meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency.”

Since Google’s European headquarters is in Ireland, the DPC supervises the search giant under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“We will cooperate fully with the office of the Data Protection Commission in its inquiry, and continue to work closely with regulators and consumer associations across Europe. In the last year, we have made a number of product changes to improve the level of user transparency and control over location data,” a Google spokesperson told CNBC.

The spokesperson said users should be able to “understand and control” how location data is tapped to provide services.

The GDPR was launched in 2018 to provide users with increased control over their data. It is also intended to ensure that companies stick to stringent data processing rules. 

Violating the GDPR can result in penalties of up to €20 million euros or 4 percent of a company’s total global turnover, whichever is higher.

If Google is found in violation of data protection laws, it could be forced to change how it does business. The DPC also has an open inquiry since May into Google’s processing of data for advertising. 

Google is facing a handful of probes in Europe and the U.S., including antitrust probes from the U.S. Department of Justice and an alliance of 50 attorneys general nationwide. 

Last week, the EU said it wants to rein in big tech giants and break up their wide-reaching hold on data by creating a single market of data.



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