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Google and Tinder investigated over GDPR compliance

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The Irish Data Protection Commission is investigating both Google and Tinder, to decide whether the tech companies are fully complying with their data privacy obligations under GDPR.

The Dublin-based regulators will conduct a statutory inquiry into whether Google’s Irish subsidiary fulfilled its transparency obligations and whether it “has a valid legal basis for processing the location of its users”.

According to a statement from the regulator, it has received multiple complaints from various EU consumer organisations about Google’s processing of location data and its transparency around that processing.

Google told the Associated Press (AP) that it “will cooperate fully with the office of the Data Protection Commission in its inquiry and continue to work closely with regulators and consumer associations across Europe. In the last year, we have made a number of product changes to improve the level of user transparency and control over location data.”

Meanwhile, Match Group subsidiary Tinder is also being scrutinised by the Irish data watchdog after the EU raised concerns around its processing of private data. The regulator will investigate whether the company has a legal basis for continuing to process this data and whether it fulfils its GDPR obligations relating to transparency and data subject requests.

Match Group told AP: “Transparency and protecting our users’ personal data is of utmost importance to us. We are fully cooperating with the Data Protection Commission and will continue to abide by GDPR and all applicable laws.”

The Data Protection Commission has 23 inquiries into American tech companies, including social media giants Facebook and Twitter. Under GDPR – which has been widely welcomed as setting a new standard regarding data privacy – companies are held more accountable for their data handling, such as by having to disclose data collection and erase records upon request. Companies may be fined up to four per cent of their global turnover for every breach.

The watchdog’s investigation into Tinder comes just weeks after the Norwegian Consumer Council published a study which accused Tinder – in addition to fertility apps and other dating apps – of sharing huge amounts of sensitive data with advertising companies, often without the user’s full knowledge and consent.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has publicly backed GDPR, commenting at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland recently that privacy should not be a “luxury” and welcoming further tech regulation.

However, Google has continued to suffer a trickle of privacy-related embarrassments. This week, Google emailed some users to inform them that some private videos stored using Google Photos had been accidentally sent to strangers, on account of a “technical issue” with Google’s Takeout service in November 2019.

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