Germany has issued a warning against Google regarding its user profiling activities. Apparently Google’s practice of profiling users across different services is in violation of German privacy laws.
The warning was issued by The Hamburg Data Protection Authority. The Authority averred that Google is in violation of the German Telemedia Act as well as the German Federal Data Protection Act, which both require explicit user consent on how information and data is processed.
The Authority requires Google to change its current practices of user profiling relating to German users, requiring that users’ consent must be gained before profiling and that users should be able to control what their personal information and data is used for.
The Authority argues that Google is in violation of German privacy laws in that it collects user data and personal information across different services (such as YouTube and Gmail) and multiple devices without gaining a user’s consent. Users also don’t have an option to opt-out from this kind of data being processed.
“We ordered Google to achieve unambiguous user consent before combining user data from different services for purposes that are not strictly necessary to deliver the service. In some cases (e.g. pseudonymous user profiling), the implementation of appropriate mechanisms to opt out are sufficient,” said the Authority’s deputy data protection commission, Ulrich Kühn.
This is not the first time Google’s privacy practices have come under fire in Europe. This year alone, CNI, the French data protection agency, fined Google just over $200,000 for privacy violations.
Google will have four weeks to react to the warning and to raise any objections, after which the warning cannot be appealed and Google will have to comply with the terms of the order.