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EU antitrust regulators set to start investigating Google's data collection

(Image credit: Image Credit: Anthony Spadafora)

European Union’s communications watchdog has its sights set on Google once again, an exclusive Reuters story claims. The world’s biggest search engine has previously been investigated, and fined, for using its strength in the market to create an unfair advantage.

This time around, the investigators are looking at the ways, and the reasons why, Google gathers and monetises user data.  

“The Commission has sent out questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google’s practices relating to Google’s collection and use of data. The preliminary investigation is ongoing,” the EU regulator told Reuters in an email.

According to a document seen by Reuters reporters, the EU is focusing on data generated through local search services, online advertising, online ad targeting services, login services and web browsers.

So far, Google was forced to pay roughly $8.8 billion in fines and was ordered to change its business practices. We’re yet to hear what the American search engine giant has to say about it, but so far it’s maintained its stance that the data is used to improve its services, and that it has given its users plenty of options to manage the data being gathered.

Earlier this year, in January, Google was fined by the French watchdog CNIL $50 million for breaching GDPR. Back then, the official ruling says Google violated GDPR in two ways: it wasn't transparent enough when it comes to creating a Google account through an Android device; and it has “massive and intrusive” data processing practices.

CNIL said the purposes of the processing were too vague and generic, meaning users weren’t able to fully understand them. The consent it gathers up for ads personalisation is not valid.

"The information on processing operations for the ads personalization is diluted in several documents and does not enable the user to be aware of their extent," the CNIL said.

Ever since the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal, communications watchdogs around the world have been vigorously investigating the world’s biggest technology companies, trying to make sure they don’t abuse their position at the expense and privacy of their users.