Competition Proceeding against Google is closed with Commitment Decision

The Hungarian Competition Authority (Gazdasági Versenyhivatal, GVH) initiated a competition supervision procedure in 2016, to investigate the communications practices of Google LLC (Google) that were assumed to have violated the prohibition of unfair trading practices.

The GVH noticed that prior to putting ‘Allo’ chat client on the market, in the related marketing communication Google had claimed that the application would allow an encrypted communication between the termination points; furthermore, that in the process of installation of the application, the consumers were not provided with detailed information concerning the data protection and data storing practices of the chat client.

Additionally, in connection with the functions ‘Internet- and Application Activities’ and ‘Personalization of Advertisements’, the Competition Authority investigated whether Google had provided the users with proper information on user-related data collection and the controlling of such data collection, with due professional care and diligence.

With respect to Google’s statements on the encrypted communication between termination points in the ‘Allo’ chat client, the GVH revealed no infringement; while with respect to the provision of information on functions available in Google user accounts, the GVH terminated the proceeding, as neither the infringement, nor the lack of infringement of laws could have been revealed.

The primary aspect of the GVH’s investigation concerning Google’s obligation to provide information at the installation of the chat client was the protection of consumers and not the protection of data. In the opinion of the GVH, neither the termination of the competition supervision procedure nor the establishment of the lack of infringement would have been reasonable; hence, the authority obliged the company to perform the following commitments:

  • Google LLC shall set up a page dedicated solely to the data processing practice of Allo under the ‘Google Allo Help’ website, drafted in a plain and easily understandable language and providing a comprehensive overview of the consumer’s rights and obligations.
  • Furthermore, Google shall make accessible the hyperlink to the data protection website from the description of Allo (both in Google Play and iOS App Store), it shall place a clickable link to the data protection website in the installation process and send the link to the Hungarian users of the application in an internal Allo service message.
  • Additionally, Google shall publish a graphical educational banner on the central part of the main page of its YouTube channel, available from the territory of Hungary, in the topic of data protection. The banner message shall emphasize that the warning of its consumers of the fact that Google collects and processes their personal data is of primary importance for the company and that Google strongly recommends for the consumers the review of the respective Privacy Policies and settings.