In another illustration that the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) intends to be involved front and centre in relation to the protection of data held by companies in respect of their consumers, it has announced this week that it has commenced a Federal Court proceeding alleging that Google engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by asking consumers to click an “I agree” button without consumers being explicitly informed about certain data collection changes to which they were purportedly agreeing.
In this regard, the ACCC alleges that Google did not obtain its users’ explicit informed consent to the expanded collection of data about them when updating a policy regarding customer data collection. The effect of the policy change was to collect personally identifiable data about consumers’ Internet activity even when not using Google services, where previously that had not been the case.
“The ACCC considers that consumers effectively pay for Google’s services with their data, so this change introduced by Google increased the ‘price’ of Google’s services, without consumers’ knowledge,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims alleged in the media release.
This statement about the price/value of data underpins our ongoing observations around the ACCC’s current strong interest in the protection and regulation of the collection and (mis-)management of consumers’ data.
- There are presently few, if any, cases in Australia specifically about the validity and enforcement of “click-wrap” agreements. This will be interesting to watch.