EU privacy regulators promise action on Google privacy policy changes

Regulators want Google to provide users with more information about its policies, and delete personal data after set periods

European privacy authorities have threatened action before the Summer to curb Google's collection, combination and storage of its users' personal information, after growing impatient with the company's failure to respond to their criticisms of its revised privacy policy.

An action plan was drawn up last month, and will be submitted for approval next week at a formal meeting of the Article 29 Working Party (A29WP), which brings together data protection authorities from across the European Union.

Google introduced its revised, unified privacy policy on March 1, 2012, despite requests for a delay from AW29P.

The A29WP's members wanted more time to complete their examination of the policy changes Google had proposed. Google refused to wait, prompting the A29WP to ask the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL) to conduct a full investigation. It exchanged several letters with Google seeking clarification of the company's policies before finally publishing its report on Oct. 16.

That report stopped short of asking Google to undo all its changes, but said that in order to comply with E.U. data protection regulations, Google should provide users with more information about its policies, stop combining information from different sources when it is not legally justified, and guarantee to delete personal data after set periods.

Last October, CNIL president Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin said she expected Google to make a commitment to change its policy "within three or four months," failing which she expected that a number of national data protection authorities would take action. The A29WP set no firm deadline for Google to take action, however, leaving it to national data protection authorities to decide whether to take regulatory or legal action.

On Monday, though, the privacy regulators seemed less patient.

"After a four month deadline that was granted to Google in order to comply with the European data protection regulation and to implement effectively [A29WP] recommendations, no answer has been given," CNIL said Monday.

"On Feb. 18, European data protection authorities have noted that Google did not provide any precise and effective answers to their recommendations. In this context, the E.U. data protection authorities are committed to act and continue their investigations. Therefore, they propose to set up a working group, led by the CNIL, in order to coordinate their repressive action which should take place before the summer."

Google insisted that it had replied to CNIL in January, but neither party immediately responded to requests for an explanation of the discrepancy between their stories. Given CNIL's criticism of Google's previous responses as evasive or incomplete, the most likely is that Google did indeed reply, but that its answers were not precise or effective enough to satisfy CNIL.

Google Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer was clearly in no mood to write any last-minute replies, however. He spent the weekend writing a post for his personal blog in which he accused European privacy laws of being quixotic, hopelessly vague and innovation-inhibiting.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GoogleCommission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertésregulationsecuritylegalgovernmentinternetsearch enginesArticle 29 Working Partyprivacy

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?