GDPR: Google Accused Of ‘Putting A Gun Against Publishers’ Heads’

Associations representing more than 4,000 publishers across the globe including the News Media Association have accused Google of “effectively putting a gun against publishers’ heads” with its proposed framework for the new data protection regime.

In a joint statement on Friday, the day GDPR came into effect, the NMA, Digital Content Next, European Publishers Council and News Media Alliance accused Google of a “flagrant abuse of their dominant position.”  

The associations said: “This is only day one, but the biggest problem is Google’s inflexibility around the legal contract they expect publishers to sign.  Despite the facade of cooperation, Google is effectively saying to publishers that they have to trust what they do with their readers’ data, whilst not telling them what they actually do with that data.

 “In the context of serious liability under GDPR, publishers will find it difficult to accept these terms. Google is effectively putting a gun against publishers’ heads.  As we know, Google holds a vast share of the digital advertising market and there are very few alternatives.  The implication in not signing Google’s GDPR terms, and not doing business with them, is that publishers will suffer dire consequences in terms of revenues. This is a flagrant abuse of their dominant position.

The statement comes after the associations wrote to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai expressing profound concerns over its proposed framework for the new data protection regime.

The letter outlines areas of concern such as the proposal to make Google an independent controller with respect to any personal data that is processed by either Google or the publisher, a requirement that publishers obtain on Google’s behalf broad and blanket consent for all collection  and use of personal data, and an “attempt to transfer liability for consent to the publisher.”

Google held a series of meetings in the UK and US last Thursday but publishers declined to attend because the joint letter has not yet received a response.