Austrian advocacy group NOYB accuses Google of tracking users 

Alphabet’s Google faces a complaint from Austrian group NOYB for allegedly tracking Chrome users without proper consent, despite promoting privacy safeguards.

Google building

Alphabet’s Google has been hit with a complaint by the Austrian advocacy group NOYB (None Of Your Business) over alleged browser tracking. The complaint, filed with the Austrian data protection authority, claims that Google’s ‘Privacy Sandbox’ feature, which is designed to protect user privacy by blocking covert tracking techniques and limiting data sharing with third parties, actually allows Google to track users within the browser without their informed consent.

NOYB argues that the feature, which is advertised as an improvement over third-party tracking cookies, is misleading and does not meet the requirements for free consent under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The group claims that users are tricked into accepting Google’s first-party ad tracking by being presented with a pop-up that says ‘turn on ad privacy feature,’ which they believe would protect their personal data. However, this feature actually enables Google to track users’ online behavior and generate a list of advertising topics based on their browsing history.

NOYB has asked the Austrian data protection authority to ensure Google’s GDPR compliance, halt data processing based on invalid consent, and inform data recipients to stop using this data. They also seek a substantial fine to deter future violations, emphasizing the importance of GDPR adherence. Google defends its Privacy Sandbox APIs, highlighting significant privacy enhancements over third-party cookies. The company states it is working closely with global regulators on a balanced solution beneficial to users and the ecosystem.