Google ordered to 'fix' privacy policy

2012-10-16 13:05

Paris - European data protection agencies on Tuesday said Google's new privacy policy does not comply with EU laws and told the US Internet giant to fix it within months or face legal action.

"Google has a few months, three or four months, to comply. If it takes no action, we will enter a phase of litigation," said the head of France's CNIL data agency, which took a lead role in a European probe into the company.

Google rolled out the new privacy policy in March, allowing the firm to track users across various services to develop targeted advertising, despite sharp criticism from US and European consumer advocacy groups.

It contends the move simplifies and unifies its policies across its various services such as Gmail, YouTube, Android mobile systems, social networks and internet search.

The CNIL led an investigation into the policy by data agencies from all 27 EU member states and on Tuesday presented its conclusions at a press conference in Paris.

Joint letter

In a joint letter to Google made public ahead of the conference, the agencies wrote that the US firm "provides insufficient information to its users, especially on the purposes and the categories of data being processed".

"As a result, a Google user is unable to determine which categories of data are processed in the service he uses, and for which purpose these data are processed," it said.

CNIL president Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin told reporters that "we now demand adjustments" to the policy, failing which "authorities in several countries can take action against Google".

She added however that such action would be taken on a national and not an EU level.

Critics have argued that Google's new policy, which offers no ability to opt out aside from refraining from signing into Google services, gives the internet giant unprecedented ability to monitor its users.

The California-based firm said the changes are designed to improve the user experience across the various Google products, and give the firm a more integrated view of its users, an advantage enjoyed by Apple and Facebook.

  • vambozha.mutemi.9 - 2012-10-16 13:39

    No one is forced to sign up with google or buy their products.

  • wouter.cloete - 2012-10-16 13:52

    Its called choice. Google is a free service . I CHOOSE to subscribe and I choose to unsubscribe. If I dont like their service I leave it. Why must there always be a bunch of social moralists trying to tell people what choices should be available and what not. Who appointed them to make choices on behalf of the consumer ? These social moralists sit on committees all day long wasting tax payers money.

      kseyffert - 2012-10-16 16:29

      Wouter, their point is exactly that Google is NOT giving you the choice and hiding exactly what they do with the data. They are trying to get Google to give YOU that information specifically so that you can make an informed choice. Whether or not I agree, is another issue entirely... My reply here is specifically aimed at your response to the article and you seem to have missed the entire point.

  • ian.d.samson - 2012-10-16 16:48

    I would love to know HOW AFP gets a response from Google so quickly when trying to contact Google is almost futile! I hope Google rewrites their Privacy Policy for GLOBAL users, not just USA- or EU-centric requirements?

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