A series of European consumer organizations have filed complaints against the system you use to register for Google. That would make it unnecessarily difficult to tighten your privacy settings.
This is announced by the European umbrella consumer organization BEUC. The complaint was filed by the French consumer association, but similar organizations in the Czech Republic, Norway, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden have filed their grievances with their local privacy regulators. The German consumer association has meanwhile sent a letter to Google.
Those grievances revolve around Google’s registration process, which would make it as difficult as possible to choose the options where no or less data is shared. “The language used by Google at every step of the registration process is unclear, incomplete and misleading,” the BEUC said. “Google also presents the more privacy-friendly options as disadvantages.”
According to Google, the user can choose from several options when he or she opens a Google account. According to consumer groups, however, there is a dark pattern at work. Anyone who registers and wants to manually adjust their settings (to make everything stricter) needs several steps. The ‘express personalization’ option, on the other hand, turns everything on with one click, giving Google, the world’s largest advertising company, more data to link ads to. A similar ‘all off’ button does not exist, the BEUC notes.
It is far from the first time that Google has been criticized for the way it handles user data. It has already received some eight billion euros in fines from regulators in the EU, and two different competition cases against the company are currently pending in the EU. Moreover, according to the BEUC, the company has not made any adjustments to complaints that have been going on for four years, so the organization now wants to increase the pressure.