Google’s New Privacy Policy

Well, this comes from Computer Business Review site at:
http://security.cbronline.com/news/controversial-new-google-privacy-policy-comes-into-play-010312

EU looks set to investigate ‘lawfulness and fairness’ of new rules that will see user data shared across all Google services

Google is pushing ahead with its controversial new data privacy policy, despite warnings from the EU that the new rules may be illegal.

Essentially the new policy, which came into play March 1, means that data from one Google service, such as YouTube, Blogger, Gmail or the search itself, can be shared across all Google products. Google claims this is a simplification of its rules, with 60 policies being condensed into one.

The company says the changes will enable it to offer more personalised and therefore relevant search results and targeted advertising, which still makes up around 95% of Google’s revenues.

Users are unable to opt out of the new rules if they wish the continue using Google’s services, the Guardian reports.

Privacy watchers are concerned at the changes and have asked Google to delay rolling out its new policy. Google has twice so far rejected these requests.

French privacy regulator CNIL is taking the lead in the fight-back against Google, calling for another delay. In a letter dated February 27, it has confirmed that it has launched an investigation into the privacy changes.

“The CNIL and the EU data protection authorities are deeply concerned about the combination of data across services and have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing,” it said in a statement.

“While the CNIL and the EU data protection authorities welcome Google’s initiative to streamline and simplify its privacy policies, they firmly believe that this effort should not be conducted at the expense of transparency and comprehensiveness,” the statement added.

“By merging the privacy policies of its services, Google makes it impossible to understand which purposes, personal data, recipients or access rights are relevant to the use of a specific service,” the CNIL continued. “As such, Google’s new policy fails to meet the requirements of the European Data Protection Directive (95/46/CE) regarding the information that must be provided to data subjects.”

A list of questions on the new policies will be sent to Google by mid-March, the CNIL confirmed.

Big Brother Watch has also voiced its concerns. The privacy organisation has carried out research which claims nine in 10 people haven’t read the new policies while 47% of regular Google users did not even know changes were imminent.

“We have called for the company to not implement the new policy until its impact is fully understood and consumers can be confident there is adequate privacy protection in place,” Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said.

“Companies should not be allowed to bury in legal jargon and vague statements how they handle our personal information, and it is very positive that the Article 29 Working Group are seeking to ensure consumers understand what the detail of Google’s new privacy policy means,” Pickles added. “If people don’t understand what is happening to their personal information, how can they make an informed choice about using a service?”

Google has defended the changes and said it is willing to talk to European regulators. “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,” Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in response to the CNIL letter.

“We are confident that our new simple, clear and transparent privacy policy respects all European data protection laws and principles,” Fleischer added.

Writing on the Official Google blog, Alma Whitten, Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering, added: “Because we’re making these changes, over time we’ll be able to improve our products in ways that help our users get the most from the web.”

“The new policy doesn’t change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google. We aren’t collecting any new or additional information about users. We won’t be selling your personal data. And we will continue to employ industry-leading security to keep your information safe,” Whitten added.

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