ACCC Get Its Satisfaction
The ACCC is now going to issue Google with a large fine – along with publication orders, declarations, and compliance orders that are going to be determined and announced toward the end of 2021.
Rod Sims – ACCC Chairperson, revealed that along with financial penalties that will be in the ten’s of millions, they are also seeking a legal order for Google to publish a notice to consumers in Australia that better explains the location data settings on Andriod phones in the future. Similar to how Tobacco companies need to label their products with full disclosure.
He added that this would help in ensuring that the consumers can make well-informed decisions. The customers can also decide whether specific Google settings featuring personal collection of location data should be enabled.
Currently, the company is reviewing the available options – including a possible appeal. The company aims at providing robust controls for location-specific data and keeps looking to do more. As per the company’s claims, it has recently introduced the concept of Auto Delete options with respect to Location History. control access to their data.
What is the Impact of this Decision?
The ACCC stated that it would determine its compliance orders and penalty fines for Google later in 2021. The Commission also aims to force Google to make a formal statement to consumers in Australia that can better explain the labyrinth of privacy settings and 3rd party data deals that it uses to make its vast profits.
The ACCC has now grabbed two major corporate scalps in this arena, Google, and the medical appointment booking App, Health Engine (who was recently forced to pay $2.9 Million in fines).
And that’s just under the current laws.
Don’t forget that Australia’s Attorney-General kick-started a formal review in December 2019 of the “Australian Privacy Act” that hasn’t been touched since it was brought into Law in 1988.
A lot has changed in the world since 1988. Still, that Act should be the single piece of legislation that ensures any companies privacy settings empower consumers, protects their data, but doesn’t restrict the growth of Australia’s digital economy at the same time.
This Australian Privacy Act review was announced shortly after the results of the ACCC’s “Digital Platforms” Inquiry were made public the year before (2018).
What does this all mean for Australian Internet Businesses?
Beware of the perfect storm starting to form for those unwary players.
On one side, you have the ACCC, which clearly has misleading privacy policies in its sights.
On the other, you have growing consumer distrust powering politicians to reform a regulatory system that is slowly but surely catching up.
If today’s laws are outdated (and they are), but the ACCC can use them to successfully prosecute the likes of Google (and they have), then when the new laws kick in (and they will), you can expect a far more ferocious ACCC, with a lot sharper teeth.
If your business relies on the commercialization of 3rd party data to turn a profit – rethink it now.