Google's 'Hopelessly Vague' Privacy Policy Violates GDPR, Privacy Advocate Claims

The ad-blocking browser company Brave has alleged in a new complaint that Google is violating Europe's broad privacy rules by failing to adequately explain its data practices.

“Google's purposes are so vaguely defined as to have no meaning or limit,” Brave states. “The result is an internal data free-for-all.”

The complaint, filed Monday with the Irish Data Protection Commission by Brave chief policy officer Johnny Ryan, alleges that Google's privacy policy is so "hopelessly vague and unspecific" that it doesn't comply with the General Data Protection Regulation.

“Google is required [to] transparently and explicitly specify the purposes for which the data is collected and processed,” the complaint alleges. “Google have failed to do so.”

Among other examples, the complaint points to a statement by Google about personalized services.

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“Google state that they 'may also show you personalized ads based on your interests,'” the complaint states. “The term 'personalized ads' links to a further page, entitled 'Why you're seeing an ad.' No further information concerning the purposes of processing are provided on that page.”

Ryan also alleges that Google's privacy policy doesn't make clear how it uses data collected from consumers.

“It is not apparent from the policy which activity, product or interaction is covered by which purpose,” the complaint alleges. “It is therefore difficult (if not impossible) to decipher if and when a particular purpose applies, for example, to data collected or processed in the context of YouTube, Authorised Buyers or Maps etc.”

Brave's Ryan has brought complaints against Google and other tech companies in the past, as well as against IAB Europe.

Google is facing other privacy investigations in Europe, including one relating to its location tracking practices. Additionally, last year regulators in France fined the company around $57 million after finding it failed to obtain people's unambiguous consent before using their data in order to personalize ads. 

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