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Google Fast-Track to Surveillance Sparks European Backlash

Google has been attacked by European consumer groups who accuse the US giant of keeping users “on a fast-track” when they sign up for an account.

Google has been attacked by European consumer groups who accuse the US giant of keeping users “on a fast-track” when they sign up for an account.

Alphabet Inc., which is coordinating action against 10 national groups, according to the regional consumer body BEUC. Institutions.

BEUC said in a statement on Thursday, “Through a combination of deceptive designs, vague language, misleading choices and missing information, Google’s account signup process is designed to allow customers to process their data extensively and aggressively.”

The Brussels-based agency said Greek, French, Slovenian, Norwegian and Czech members had lodged complaints with local regulators. Others reported the company’s practices to authorities, when a German company was sending a warning to Google ahead of a possible lawsuit.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, gives regulators the power to impose fines of up to 4% of a company’s annual revenue. Overnight, it has turned Ireland’s Watchdog into the top regulator of the bloc, which is investigating dozens of powerful U.S. technology companies with European bases in the country – such as Meta Platforms Inc. National authorities also retain some power to take action in cases that affect local consumers.

Google says it is now offering a variety of options when someone creates a new account “to help people like their terms.”

“These options are clearly labeled and designed to be easy to understand,” Google said in an email statement. “We’ve built these based on extensive research efforts and guidance from the Data Protection Authority and testers’ feedback, and Google is committed to ensuring that these choices are clear, simple and sophisticated.”

BEUC says that in some cases users are forced to create a Google Account when they want to use certain products and services of the company, such as when they buy a smartphone based on the firm’s Android system.

The sign-up phase is an “important point” that indicates how the accounts will work, BEUC said. In just one step, or “Personalization”, the user sets up all the account settings that feed Google’s monitoring activities, saying that “there is no option to ‘turn off’ all settings with one click.”

If they want more privacy-friendly options, users “have to navigate through a long process and a mix of vague and confusing options,” the BEUC said.




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