Google to reform its data processing policy following German FCO’s intervention

Following Germany’s Federal Cartel Office’s remarks on its data processing mechanisms, Google is set to reform its data policy processing.

 Electronics, Screen, Computer, Pc, Computer Hardware, Hardware, Monitor, Laptop, Phone, Mobile Phone, Logo, White Board

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced that Google has agreed to rearrange its data collection and processing policy.

So far, Google has been intertwining personal data from its offered services and other non-Google sources to simplify the user’s experience. However, the FCO’s investigation, which started back in May 2021, has shown that Google has neglected to offer its customers clear, unambiguous, free consent to its data processing mechanisms throughout all of Google’s services.

The FCO explained that how this BigTech company had connected and collected user data made users vulnerable to ad profiling and gave an unfair advantage over their competitors and dominance over the market. 

According to FCO’s preliminary decision, in January 2023, Google failed to provide users with clear information on how their data will be used and processed across its products and that the existing terms and conditions it offered sufficiently lacked transparency. Google is expected to adhere to the German regulator’s requests by 30 September 2024, with Google Assistant and Contacts having an earlier deadline of 6 March 2024. The commitments will then be valid within a five-year duration period.

Why does it matter?

The actions that the FOC is taking seem similar to the ones imposed by the recent Digital Markets Act (DMA), which lists six BigTech companies (including Google) that are to abide by the restrictions defined in the regulation. The DMA is meant to create fair market conditions for competitors and individual users. However, the FOC has explained that the obligations imposed on Google will only be valid for products and services that the DMA does not cover (such as Gmail, Google News, Assistant, Contacts, and Google TV).