Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal – GVH) investigated the
communications practices of Google LLC (Google) in relation to its ‘Internet and applications’ services ‘personalisation of advertisements”, and its data
processing of ‘Allo’ chat
clients and encryption among chat clients termination points.
The GVH investigated whether consumers had
received the information necessary to be able to make well-established
decisions about the data processing activity of Google, which is an essential
of Google’s products. The GVH did not assess the communication practice of
Google’s products from a data protection point of view, but instead analysed
whether the data processing practice was carried out in compliance with the applicable
rules and regulations. Namely, the rights of consumers to make undistorted
business decisions may be violated even if data protection rights are properly
observed, if consumers are not supplied with information which would be
necessary to make well-established decisions (or not supplied timely with
correct information, or supplied timely with misleading information, or the
information is not clear enough).
As regards to its communications practice
concerning the data processing of applications – relating to one of the behaviours
of Allo chatclients – the GVH obliged Google to fulfil the voluntary
commitments it had undertaken. While the GVH did not consider it well founded
to terminate the proceeding and to state a lack of infringement, it reached the
conclusion that – concerning the communications in the context of the data
processing of Allo – a potential violation may be efficiently remedied by the
commitment package submitted by Google, thereby enabling the protection of the
interest to be guaranteed.
The GVH objected to the fact that Google had
not provided direct information about other Google products and about the
processing of consumers’ data in the advertisement, installation and
application of Allo chatclients (which may be used irrespective of other Google
accounts), which may be necessary to enable consumers to make well-established
decisions. By not providing this information, consumers are not fully informed
about the characteristics and nature of the product and about the price of the
The commitments undertaken by Google require
it to set up a page on the data processing of Allo under the ‘Allo Help’ website,
which will be accessible both
from the installation process description of Allo and from the description
available in AlloGooglePlay and iOSAppStore. Google undertook to draft this
page in plain language and in a balanced manner, i.e. not exaggerating or diminishing
the decision-making options, rights and potential obligations of consumers.
Furthermore, it has also undertaken that in the descriptions of the webstores
this information will be easily accessible, without long scrolling, in the
first paragraph of the texts, immediately following the introductory paragraph.
In accordance with the commitments, Google is
obliged to send the hyperlink of the data management’s sub-page within the
application of Allo to the users of the product in Hungary. In addition, in the
fourth quarter of 2018 it must publish a one-day graphical educational banner
on its YouTube channel highlighting that Google collects and handles consumers’
personal data and recommending that consumers review the privacy policies and
Google has also undertaken to verify that it
has implemented the above-stated measures, and also that the information will
not be communicated in a less noticeable way and that it will not reduce the
awareness level of consumers in the future.
considered the commitments submitted by the undertaking in accordance with
Article 75 of the Hungarian Competition Act and Notice No. 6/2014 of the
President of the GVH and the Chairman of the Competition Council on commitments
made in procedures initiated in connection with an alleged infringement of the
prohibition of unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices.
The GVH found that the other conduct of the
undertaking – the statement concerning encryption between termination points –
which was investigated in connection with Allo chat client, did not amount to
an infringement of competition law. The GVH has also terminated its competition
supervision proceeding regarding the commercial practice related to the data
management of new Google features.
According to the GVH, the commercial practice
that has been modified as a result of the submitted commitments extends beyond
this immediate case, as it not only affects the information provided in
Hungarian: the data management subpage will be translated in 44 languages at
the same time, furthermore the undertaking can reach a larger Hungarian group
of consumers with the general, data protection themed educational banner, than
the users of Allo chat client.
Case number: Vj/88/2016
Budapest, 31 August 2018
Hungarian Competition Authority
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