Business News Social Media, Chrome, data, EU, EU Law, France, Google, Privacy, search — March 1, 2012 13:15 — 1 Comment
Google’s new privacy rules investigated by EU authorities
France asks European data authorities to investigate pooling of user data by search engine giant, which kicked in on Thursday 1 March
France is leading the charge against Google’s new privacy rules, which come into force today (Thursday 1 March), arguing the sweeping changes breach European law.
France’s data protection watchdog, the CNIL, told Google in a letter dated 27 February that it would lead a
Google said in January it was simplifying its privacy rules, consolidating 60 policies into a single one, and has promoted it as a positive change.
Users cannot opt out of the new policy if they want to continue using Google’s services.
“The CNIL and EU data authorities are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services: they have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing and its compliance with European data protection legislation,” the French regulator wrote to Google.
Google has put the changes into effect from Thursday 1 March and has rebuffed two requests from European regulators for a delay.
The tussle over data privacy comes at a delicate time for Google, whose business model has become to give away free search, email and other services while making money by selling
It is already being investigated by the EU’s competition authority and the US Federal Trade Commission over how it ranks search results and whether it favours its own products over those of rivals.
In a blogpost responding to CNIL’s letter, Google said it was happy to answer questions from Europe’s data protection authorities. “As we’ve said several times over the past week, while our privacy policies will change on 1st March, our commitment to our privacy principles is as strong as ever,” wrote Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel.
Internet users could also ask for their data to be deleted from websites for good, the
Japan’s trade and industrial ministry warned on Wednesday that Google must follow Japan’s privacy law in implementing its new approach, and that Google needed to provide explanations to address users’ concerns. “It is important for the firm to be flexible by providing necessary additional explanations or measures to address actual user concerns or requests also after March 1…” the ministry said in a statement.
Google has pointed out that users can search anonymously or while logged out to avoid being tracked, as well as using separate accounts on different Google services to keep data diffused – although critics argue this makes for a clunky user experience. Users can also control their advertising preferences and make sure their web history is not tracked.
In a guest post to the Guardian, Alma Whitten, the company’s director of privacy explains its thinking behind the unification of its privacy policies and accompanying data.
“Our approach to privacy isn’t changing. We’re not collecting any new information as a result of this change. We’re not altering any of your privacy settings. And we still won’t sell your personal information to advertisers. We just want to use the information you already trust us with to make your experience better,” she writes.