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European regulators tell Google to fix privacy policy amid "deep concerns about data protection"

One News Page Staff
Tuesday, 16 October 2012

European regulators tell Google to fix privacy policy amid deep concerns about data protectionby

Data protection regulators across Europe have requested that Google change its new privacy policy - or face legal action

LONDON, United Kingdom -- European data protection officials announced on Tuesday that internet giant Google's unified privacy policy, introduced just over half a year ago, does not meet European standards and must be changed.

In a letter addressed to Google CEO Larry Page, data regulators from 27 EU countries call on Google to provide users with more information on what data it collects and for what purpose.

On the 1st of March this year, Google introduced a unified privacy policy which consolidated 60 separate privacy policies from various Google-owned services, including YouTube, Google News, Google+ and the internet giant's Android smartphone operating system.

Under the new unified privacy policy, Google pools data from across all those products to help it monitor users' activities on the web, profile them more efficiently and target them more accurately for search results and advertising.

The letter follows an inquiry led by French data privacy regulator CNIL, and outlines three main concerns about Google's privacy policy:

* It's not clear enough in explaining to users what data is collected and how it will be used
* It's too difficult for users to opt out of data collection
* It doesn't day how long Google will hold on to the collected user data

"As data protection regulators, we expect that Google takes the necessary steps to improve information and clarify the combination of data, and more generally ensure compliance with data protection laws and principles," the letter said.

CNIL warned Google that in case no action was taken to alley its concerns, it would "enter a phase of litigation" against the internet giant.

Google's global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, reacted to the letter in a statement on Tuesday.

"We have received the report and are reviewing it now. Our new privacy policy demonstrates our long-standing commitment to protecting our users’ information and creating great products," Fleischer said.

"We are confident that our privacy notices respect European law," he added.

Pro-privacy campaigners welcomed the letter from EU regulators.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "Unless people are aware just how much of their behavior is being monitored and recorded, it is impossible to make an informed choice about using services."

The news comes as regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are preparing for possible major antitrust cases against Google. These are centred on allegations that Google may have abused its dominant position in search to promote its own services over and above those of competitors to gain an unfair competitive advantage.
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Source: Associated Press - on October 16, 2012

News video: Regulators to Google: Change Privacy Policy

Regulators to Google: Change Privacy Policy

European regulators are asking Google to clarify its privacy policy, possibly making it easier for users to opt out. The search giant is looking to consolidate how it collects data across its many services like Gmail and YouTube. (Oct. 16)

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