European consumer groups accuse Google of manipulating users into constant tracking

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People visit the Google exhibition booth at the CeBIT IT fair in Hannover of Germany, March 6, 2012. [Photo / Xinhua]

Based on new research published Tuesday by the Norwegian Consumer Council, seven European consumer groups filed complaints against Google with their national authorities, accusing the U.S. technology company of manipulating users into constant tracking.

The new research showed Google's deceptive design and misleading information result in users accepting to be constantly tracked, the Norwegian Consumer Council said in a statement.

Google tracks users through "Location History" and "Web & App Activity", which are settings integrated into all Google accounts, and users don't have straightforward information about what this effectively entails, according to the research.

The consumer organizations of Norway, the Netherlands, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland and Sweden have participating in the action to file complaints with their data protection authorities.

"Google is processing incredibly detailed and extensive personal data without proper legal grounds, and the data has been acquired through manipulation techniques," said Gro Mette Moen, acting head of the unit of digital services in the Norwegian Consumer Council.

She said the scale in which Google tracks the location of its users breaches the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU), which has also come into force in non-EU Norway.

"Users have not given free, specific, informed and unambiguous consent to the collection and use of location data, particularly considering the scale of tracking going on," Moen said.

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