Google said it had successfully ‘slowed down’ European privacy rules, according to lawsuit.


WASHINGTON — Google said in an internal document that it had successfully “slowed down” European privacy rules in collaboration with other tech companies, according to a legal filing released on Friday.

Ahead of a 2019 meeting with other major tech companies, Google said in a memo that it had “been successful in slowing down and delaying” the European Union’s ePrivacy Regulation process and had been “working behind the scenes hand in hand with the other companies,” according to the filing.

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The new details came in an unredacted version of a lawsuit filed by Texas and 11 other states, which argued that Google had abused its dominance over the intricate technology that delivers ads to consumers online. News organizations, including The New York Times, had asked the judge in the case to remove the redactions from the complaint.

The details offer a rare look into how major tech companies have lobbied against a growing array of proposed regulations. In recent years, lawmakers around the world have proposed new laws to limit the market power of the major tech companies, restrict their use of consumer data and set new rules for how they can moderate user-generated content.

A Google spokesman said in a statement that just because Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton “says something doesn’t make it true.”

“We’ve been clear about our support for consistent privacy rules around the globe,” the spokesman said.

The lawsuit quoted “a document prepared in advance” of an August 2019 meeting “between the five Big Tech companies — including Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.”

At the time, Google was trying to stop privacy regulations at the American Federal Trade Commission and in congressional legislation, according to the complaint. The European rules have been the subject of difficult negotiations for years.

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The company also expressed concerns about the actions of other tech companies engaged in the privacy debate. Google said that it had had trouble getting Facebook to “align on our privacy goals and strategy” and that the social network had “prioritized winning on reputation over its business interest in legislative debates.”

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Google also worried that it was being outflanked by Microsoft on privacy issues, according to the lawsuit. In the document prepared for the meeting, the company said that Kent Walker, a top Google executive, had said Google should “find alignment” with Microsoft where possible but “should be wary of their activity” and “seek to gain as much intel as possible.”



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