Google Faces Fresh EU Probe Over User Location Data

Alphabet-owned Google is facing a fresh probe in the European Union over concerns its processing of user location data could be violating privacy rules.
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Alphabet-owned Google  (GOOGL) - Get Report is facing a fresh probe in the European Union over concerns the company’s collection and processing of user location data through its various programs and apps could be violating the region’s stringent privacy rules.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Irish Data Protection Commission said the Mountain View, Calif.-based search-engine giant was being questioned about “the legality of Google’s processing of location data and the transparency surrounding that processing.”

Of concern to regulators is whether Google and other companies that offer location-tracking apps such as mapping and other functions are collecting and analyzing more than just individuals’ locations, such as information about their shopping and commuting habits, sexual orientation and even political affiliations.

The Google probe adds to more than 20 investigations by the Irish authority into Facebook  (FB) - Get Report, Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Report, Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report and others for the same reasons. The two most advanced cases concern Facebook’s WhatsApp program’s transparency around data sharing, and a probe into Twitter following a breach reported to the regulator in January 2018.

The Irish watchdog last year opened another probe into Google and how the search giant processes user data in advertising transactions. It’s trying to determine whether Google’s practices are in line with EU strict privacy laws, which mandate transparency and the minimization of data collection.

Separately, the Irish authority said it was also opening a probe into Match  (MTCH) - Get Report-owned hook-up app Tinder regarding ... "processing of users’ personal data with regard to its processing activities in relation to the Tinder platform, the transparency surrounding the ongoing processing, and the company’s compliance with its obligations with regard to data subject right’s requests."

Recently enacted Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, gives EU regulators the authority to reprimand and fine wrongdoers as much as 4% of global annual sales.

The bad news came a day after Alphabet opened the proverbial black box on Google, announcing that slower-than-expected revenue growth from YouTube and Cloud services offset a solid bottom line in its latest quarter.

Shares of Alphabet were down 3.86% at $1,425.37 in morning trading in New York on Tuesday.