Everyone has a Google account, and it is essential to create one to avail of many services. While creating the account, users go through a ‘sign-up’ process. But is there more to it than what meets the eye?
It could be, as the search engine giant is in deep waters after a union of ten European consumer organizations is taking action against Google’s sign-up process. The group has accused Google of putting users on a ”fast track to surveillance,” when creating an account.
Google gets accused of surveillance
The coalition thinks that the company is violating privacy laws by subconsciously driving people to an ‘invasive’ system, and under this system, whatever a user does is monitored by Google.
The European Consumer Organization (BEUC), which directs actions by the ten consumer groups, emphasized that the language in the registration process is ‘unclear and misleading.’ Hence, if consumers don’t know any better, they could pick options that do not protect their privacy. This has led to ‘millions of Europeans’ being advanced to supervision.
The organization claimed that signing up is crucial, as this is when Google asks users to pick how their accounts will work. However, with the ‘express personalization’ process, users pick account settings that add to Google’s surveillance activities, and there is no option to turn off all settings in one click. Instead, there are ten steps to turn off trackers, which relate to app activity, YouTube history, and more.
According to the deputy director-general of BEUC, Ursula Pachl, you can let Google monitor your online activity in one step. However, to benefit from privacy-protective settings, you must go through a lengthy process and unclear options.
When you create an account on Google, you are under surveillance by default, but privacy protection should be the easiest and the default choice for consumers.
Is Google in legal trouble?
BEUC members have filed GDPR complaints against Google with the concerned authorities. Meanwhile, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations has issued a warning letter to the company.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires that platforms give privacy to users by design. Still, Google has maintained that all options are straightforward and easy to understand.