ACCC is taking Google and Facebook to court over user privacy violations

by Gabriel E. Hall - -

ACCC chair says that five landmark cases against Google and Facebook needed to lay down the rules in court

ACCC chair confirms that Google and Facebook is investigated

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims spoke at the Melbourne Press Club about plans of taking Google and Facebook to court.[1] The ongoing Investigation is believed to have the immediate effect and to determine strict rules within which Google and Facebook must operate, as other reports from ACCC stated before.[2]

Rod Sims starts the discussion about the dominance of digital platforms like Facebook or Google and the risks of customers' privacy regarding all the broken rules and possible data breaches. The question raised is whether Facebook broke consumer law when third-party companies accessed users' data and whether it was illegal when Google collected users' location information.

The ACCC chairman talks about plans to teach these digital platforms a lesson and details that market dominance of such companies makes many businesses and services rely on social media to reach their customers. Although there are no laws to prohibit the substantial degree of market power, there are laws that determine particular rules regarding consumer data.

The ACCC offers recommendations for companies to protect consumer data

Previously, ACCC recommended to implement more regulations to Google and Facebook platforms to improve media competition and protect the privacy of consumer data. Sims revealed that the agency has five ongoing investigations.

It could be the first test case under section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act if the ACCC takes these cases to court. This court battle was called a monumental case by the former ACCC chair Allan Fels. 

Other similar cases were already held in Europe – one of them included fines of €8.2 billion by the European Commission against Google. Also, the FTC recently fined Facebook and requested a $5 billion for consumer privacy violations over Cambridge Analytica scandal.[3]

The ACCC chair mentioned all these cases and ongoing investigations in his speech:

Some of the consumer law stuff can go right to the heart. If there are cases there, then there’s behaviour they just can’t do any more. The closer you get to the centre of stuff they can’t do anymore, it has an enormous effect. There’s five investigations and I don’t want to generalise, but a couple of them go to that sort of heart.

The in-depth analysis starts and even includes consumer law cases

There are no specific details stated about these cases, but Sims spelled out that the deadline for these five investigations is the end of the year. The ACCC already launched a similar court action against medical booking application last week, as Mr. Sims noted.[4] The application creators faces multimillion fines due to accusations of selling personal client information to insurance brokers.

The ACCC chairman also questions all the digital devices and their privacy issues since there is no knowledge about the terms and how much information is collected or how it is used. New laws against data trading practices, updated privacy laws, and other regulations should stop these tech giants from illegal and inadequate behavior.[5] 

I repeat earlier what I said about the importance of consumer law and the importance of the contracts people enter into and whether they are misled about the information collected about them and what is done with it.

About the author

Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate web researcher

Gabriel E. Hall is a passionate malware researcher who has been working for 2-spyware for almost a decade.

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