Austria privacy group files complaint against Google

Austria privacy group files complaint against Google
Photo: TOLGA AKMEN / AFP
An Austrian online privacy campaign group said Wednesday it has a filed a complaint against Google over what it says is a tracking code "illegally" installed on Android phones.

The complaint from NOYB relates to Google’s Android Advertising Identifier (AAID) and has been lodged with the CNIL, France’s data protection authority.

According to NOYB, the AAID code is created “without the user’s knowledge or consent” and “functions like a licence plate that uniquely identifies the phone of a user and can be shared among companies”.

Furthermore, NOYB (none of your business) says users do not have the option of deleting the code, with only the possibility of generating a new tracking ID.

It says this violates the requirement under the EU’s e-Privacy Directive for users to give informed consent for such tracking.

Stefano Rossetti, a privacy lawyer at NOYB, likened the code to “having coloured powder on your feet and hands that marks your every step and action: everything you touch within the mobile ecosystem”.

According to NOYB, the code is present on almost all of the 306 million active Android mobile phones within the European Union.

The latest complaint follows a similar one made by NOYB against Android in Austria last year. NOYB has previously used the EU’s privacy legislation to file legal challenges relating to online privacy in different European jurisdictions.

In November it launched actions against Apple in Germany and Spain over a similar code on Apple phones known as IDFA (“identifier for advertisers”).

Among the founders of NOYB was privacy activist Max Schrems, who has notched up a series of legal victories in over online privacy.

A legal complaint from Schrems led the EU’s top court to strike down an online data arrangement known as “Privacy Shield” between Europe and the US.

In 2015, another case brought by Schrems scuppered a previous EU-US deal on which tech giants depended to do business.


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