Google Faces Privacy Complaint from Austrian Advocacy Group NOYB

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is facing a complaint by Austrian advocacy group NOYB (None of Your Business) for allegedly tracking users of its Chrome web browser without proper consent. This issue has already attracted the attention of EU antitrust regulators, Reuters news report said.
Google Android IndiaGoogle is in the process of phasing out third-party cookies, which are widely used by advertisers to track consumer behavior online, as part of its efforts to enhance consumer privacy.

Instead, Google has introduced the Privacy Sandbox, a suite of tools designed to block covert tracking techniques and limit data sharing with third parties while still allowing developers and publishers to measure ad performance without tracking individual users.

Privacy Concerns

Chrome users are given the option to turn on an ad privacy feature to prevent tracking. However, NOYB argues that this feature actually allows Google to track users within the browser and that Google should obtain explicit consent from users before doing so, as required by European Union privacy regulations.

Max Schrems, the founder of NOYB, criticized Google’s practices: “People thought they were agreeing to a privacy feature, but were tricked into accepting Google’s first-party ad tracking. Consent has to be informed, transparent, and fair to be legal. Google has done the exact opposite.”

On Thursday, NOYB filed a complaint with the Austrian Data Protection Authority. The advocacy group has a history of filing numerous complaints with EU and national privacy regulators against major tech companies for alleged privacy violations.

Google’s Response

A Google spokesperson defended the company’s approach, emphasizing the privacy improvements integrated into the Privacy Sandbox. “This complaint fails to recognize the significant privacy protections we’ve built into the Privacy Sandbox APIs, including the Topics API, and the meaningful privacy improvement they provide over today’s technologies, including third-party cookies,” the spokesperson said.

“Privacy Sandbox is designed to improve user privacy and provide the industry with privacy-preserving alternatives to cross-site tracking. We’ve been closely engaging with privacy and competition regulators globally and will continue to do that to reach a balanced outcome that works for users and the entire ecosystem,” the spokesperson added.

Regulatory Scrutiny

The complaint by NOYB adds to the growing regulatory scrutiny Google is facing in the EU over its privacy practices. EU antitrust regulators are already examining Google’s methods and the effectiveness of its new privacy measures.

As the debate over digital privacy and user consent intensifies, Google’s efforts to transition away from third-party cookies to Privacy Sandbox will be closely watched by regulators, privacy advocates, and the broader tech industry.

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