Regulator Says Google's New Privacy Policy Fails to Meet EU Standards

By Beecher Tuttle February 28, 2012

If you have used any of Google's products in the past month, you probably know that the company is planning a massive overhaul of privacy rules. And if you have read the guideline – which replaces more than 60 individual privacy policies with one overarching agreement – there is a better-than-average chance you had difficulty wading through all the vagaries to understand its repercussions.

Apparently, France feels the same way, and has asked Google to postpone applying the new policy just two days before it is scheduled to go into effect.

The European nation's regulator said on Tuesday that Google's new policy fails to meet the requirements of European Union data protection rules and should not be implemented in its current form. The National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL) alerted Google on Monday via a letter that was posted on its website today.

The CNIL rejected Google's claims that the new agreement creates more transparency and questioned the company's intention of combining personal data across multiple services, such as YouTube, Gmail and Google+. The regulatory body said that it was "deeply concerned" with the manner in which personal data will be treated and has "strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing."

Google was also taken to task for the wording of its new policy, which the CNIL says fails to identify "which data is combined between which services for which purposes, even for trained privacy professionals."

The company has said that the overhaul is an effort to simplify its privacy policy and create more accurate search results for users. The CNIL believes the new policy will allow Google to track and combine users' online activities across dozens of platforms, including Android.

"Instead of improving transparency, the way the new rules are formulated and the possibility of combining data from different services raises concerns and questions about Google's real intentions," the CNIL said.

The regulator also chastised Google for giving authorities "at best a few hours" to review the policy before its public release.

No word yet on Google's response, although the company's global privacy counsel, Peter Fleisher, said last month that Google was confident that the new policy "respects all European data protection laws and principles."

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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