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Irish privacy regulator to investigate Google on processing of location data

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) in Ireland has initiated an inquiry to investigate complaints regarding Google’s processing of location data. The DPC is responsible for monitoring the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU.

According to their statement, consumer privacy groups across the EU have raised various concerns regarding the legality of the tech giant’s processing of location data and the transparency surrounding the processing. The probe is set to determine “whether Google has a valid legal basis for processing the location data of its users and whether it meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency”.

This is not the DPC’s first investigation into practices employed by Google. In May 2019, the DPC had said it would investigate how Google treats personal data at each stage of its ad-tracking system, and whether its activities were in breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Google has had a long history with regulatory action and scrutiny in the EU.

  • In December 2019, the antitrust regulators of the European Union (EU) were seeking details of Google’s data collection practices, Reuters had reported. The focus of the investigation was reportedly on data related to local search, online advertisement targeting, login services, web browsers, and others.
  • In March 2019, the European Commission had fined Google €1.49 billion, or 1.29% of Google’s turnover in 2018, for breaching EU antitrust rules. The commission said that Google abused its market dominance by placing restrictions on third-party websites which prevented Google’s rivals from placing ads on the websites.
  • In December 2018, the European Commission sent questionnaires to Google’s rivals asking them if Google demoted local search competitors. It asked for details of Google’s practices and their impact on competing services between January 2012 to December 2017. This questionnaire was prompted by a complaint by American search and advertising company Yelp and rivals in the travel, restaurant and accommodation industries.

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