Google at Loggerheads with European Data Regulators

Global search giant Google has found itself in hot water over a decision to rewrite its privacy policies into a single document covering all of its services. Various European agencies have condemned the move as being against European law. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding told the Guardian newspaper, “For any company which wants to utilise the European market of 500 million citizens...the European rules apply.”

The Commissioner said that European transparency rules had not been applied, and that if people gave up their privacy, it should be done with their full knowledge. She condemned what she described as ‘sneaking’ privacy away.

Google’s policy change means that any private data collected by one Google service can be shared with its other services, such as YouTube, Gmail and Blogger. The company wants to do this in order to be able to tailor search results more effectively and to provide better targeted advertising.

France’s data protection watchdog, the CNIL, wrote to Google in February, saying that it would lead a Europe-wide investigation of the new privacy policy, which was announced in January this year. Google has stated that it is confident that its policy does not break any European rules and says that it wanted to simplify its privacy terms and consolidate what were previously 60 separate policies into a single document. Under Google’s new agreement, users will not be able to opt out of the privacy terms unless they stop using Google services.

Internet users should make themselves aware of the kind of data that web services collect from them. In the case of Google, a visit to Google Dashboard will list the data held on you by all of the Google services. If you have any concerns about the data held, then you should consider deleting it.
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Timothy Healy
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