Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Alphabet’s Google faced a complaint from Austrian advocacy group NOYB on Thursday, accusing it of tracking users through its Chrome Web browser, a matter already being scrutinized by EU antitrust regulators. As Google phases out third-party cookies used by advertisers for consumer tracking, it has introduced the Privacy Sandbox, a set of tools aimed at blocking covert tracking techniques and limiting data sharing with third parties. These tools allow developers and publishers to measure ads without tracking individual users.

Chrome users are prompted to decide whether they want to activate the ad privacy feature to prevent tracking. However, NOYB claims that this feature still permits Google to track users within the browser and argues that the company should obtain users’ consent in compliance with European Union privacy regulations. Max Schrems, founder of NOYB, stated that users were misled into accepting Google’s first-party ad tracking under the guise of a privacy feature, emphasizing that legal consent must be informed, transparent, and fair.

In response, NOYB filed a complaint with the Austrian data protection authority. The group has previously lodged numerous complaints with EU and national privacy regulators against major tech firms for alleged privacy violations.

A Google spokesperson defended the company’s practices, asserting that the complaint overlooked the substantial privacy protections integrated into the Privacy Sandbox APIs, such as the Topics API. The spokesperson highlighted the improvements in privacy these technologies offer compared to third-party cookies. They reiterated that the Privacy Sandbox aims to enhance user privacy while providing the industry with privacy-preserving alternatives to cross-site tracking. Google has been actively engaging with privacy and competition regulators worldwide to achieve a balanced outcome beneficial to users and the entire ecosystem.


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