What this change did was allow Google to link browsing behavior with their names and identities.
The ACCC alleges that Google misled consumers in 2016 when it changed its data collection technology to combine the personal information in a person's Google account with their browsing on other sites and apps. The ACCC believes once a user selected the "I Agree" prompt, Google would then be able to collect and store far more information that was collected to a single user.
According to the Australian regulator, this notice is misleading consumers, because they can not correctly understand exactly what changes are being made and how personal data will be used.
"Using the new joint data enabled Google to raise the value of its marketing goods, where it generated substantially higher gains".
The ACCC considers that consumers effectively pay for Google's services with their data, so this change introduced by Google increased the "price" of Google's services, without consumers' knowledge, Mr. Sims added.More news: Wiley under police investigation for antisemitic Twitter rant
For example, the change meant if a Google user was researching a personal health issue on her desktop computer and visited a health website that uses Google technology to display ads, Google would have saved data about this activity with the woman's Google account.
According to reports, from June 2016 to December 2018, a pop-up notification was shown to Google account holders explaining how the use of personal data will be expanded and asking them to agree to the new rules.
Sims said that "Google significantly increased the scope of information it collected" under the change.
"We allege that Google did not obtain explicit consent from consumers to take this step". The conduct is likely to impact millions of Australians with Google accounts as the Search engine giant could collect and combine personal data about consumers' internet activity, for other use by the company, including for targeted advertising.
The regulators recommended passing legislation for consumer protection reforms that would tackle the dominance of digital platforms such as Google and Facebook.More news: 80,000 people fleeing Vietnamese city after new virus cases
"We have cooperated with the ACCC's investigation into this matter. If a user did not consent, their experience of our products and services remained unchanged", Google said in a statement. While the fine would be beneficial, the filing may more importantly establish a point in common law over what a company can potentially do to customer data, and their privacy implications.
"This change. was worth a lot of money to Google", said commission chairman Rod Sims.
The agency alleges the change has impacted millions of Australians with Google accounts. But in a 2012 update, Google merged all the privacy policies, making it even more complicated for users to understand. In 2008, Google acquired DoubleClick, a supplier of ad-serving technology services to publishers and advertisers.
The notification also stated, "More information will be available in your Google Account making it easier for you to review and control"; and "Google will use this information to make ads across the web more relevant for you".
The ACCC has also raised Google's privacy policies since mid-2016 as part of its latest legal action against the company.More news: Meg Thee Stallion Gets Emotional In First IG Live Since Shooting
"We will keep taking action, as will agencies overseas", said Sims, "and it will shape how these platforms behave, to make sure that the internet is a benefit to users, not a detriment". "We strongly disagree with their allegations and intend to defend our position", the statement read.