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Australian regulator sues Google over expanded personal data use

Australian regulator sues Google over expanded personal data use
The Google logo is displayed on a wall at the Google Playspace at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Google said its digital assistant is used by more than 500 million people every month. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

July 27 (Reuters) - Australia's competition regulator has launched court proceedings against Alphabet's Google for allegedly misleading consumers about the expanded use of personal data for targeted advertising.

The case by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in Federal Court said Google did not explicitly get consent nor properly inform consumers about a 2016 move to combine personal information in Google accounts with activities on non-Google websites that use its technology.

The regulator said this practice allowed the Alphabet Inc unit to link the names and other ways to identify consumers with their behaviour elsewhere on the internet.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move by the ACCC comes amid heightened attention in much of the world on data privacy. U.S. and European lawmakers have recently stepped up their focus on how tech companies treat user data due to privacy concerns.

“We are taking this action because we consider Google misled Australian consumers about what it planned to do with large amounts of their personal information, including internet activity on websites not connected to Google,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

The regulator alleges Google used the combined data to boost targeted advertising – a key source of income – and that it did not make clear to consumers about changes in its privacy policy.

The regulator did not say what it wanted the court to do, adding that it has filed the claim on a “confidential basis pending claims by Google.” (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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