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GOOGLE SPRINGS LAST-MINUTE,“TAKE-IT-OR-LEAVE-IT” GDPR DEMANDS ON NEWS PUBLISHERS

Just a month before the new EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) regulations are due to come into force, Google has announced draconian compliance terms to publishers –a one-size-fits-all approach that would have potentially dire consequences for publishers who are financially dependent on digital advertising, notably:


  • Google is demanding that publishers acquire blanket consent for any use of personal data on Google’s behalf –without providing information on how that data may be used;

  • Google’s proposed contractual structure demands that publishers take the full brunt of regulatory or private-action penalties shouldpublishers fail to obtain consent on Google’s behalf, despite the fact that this consent must be obtained in the absence of sufficient information regarding Google’s intended purposes;

  • Google’s intention to claim broad rights over data collected by Publishers for their own use and profit in the ecosystem amounts to an unprecedented data-grabbing exercise; and

  • Google is threatening to stop serving ads on publisher sites if they deem the publishers’ consent mechanism to be insufficient, but then dictates how that mechanism would look and prescribes the number of companies a publisher can work with. Google is thereby limiting the choice of companies that any one publisher can gather consent for, or integrate with, to a very small, Google-defined number. This gives rise to grave concerns in terms of anti-competitive behavior, as Google is in effect dictating to the market which companies any publisher can do business with.


European and international news publishers have written to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai expressing their concerns.The letter can be found here.


Signatory to the letter, Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director of the European Publishers Council (EPC) said: “As usual, Google wants to have its cake and eat it. It wants to be data controller –of data provided by publishers –without any of the legal liability –and with apparently total freedom to do what they like with that data. Publishers have trusted relationships with their readers and advertisers –how can we get consent from them without being in a position to tell them what they are consenting to? And why should we be legally liable for any abuses when we have no control or prior knowledge? By imposing their own standard for regulatory compliance, Google effectively prevents publishers from being able to choose which partners to work with.”


The EU GDPR regulation comes into force on 25 May.

Penalties can be up to 4% of global turnover for the previous financial year

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