Business, Finance & Economics

Google privacy overhaul 'fails to meet EU rules'

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As of March 1, the software giant will link information across its services so that information gathered in one place – for example, a user’s Google search terms – can be used to recommend content elsewhere – when they next use YouTube, for example.

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Alexandra Wyman

Google’s new privacy policy may violate European Union data protection laws, France’s regulator said Tuesday, just two days before the new guidelines are due to come into force.

The California-based search giant aims to unify dozens of separate private policies across its email, video, social-networking and other services from March 1. It says this will make its policies simpler and improve user experience.

But concerns over the effect of the policy led the EU’s Article 29 Working Party, an advisory body which includes delegates from all European data protection authorities, to urge a “pause” and ask French regulator CNIL (Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés) to examine them earlier this month.

“Our preliminary analysis shows that Google’s new policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection,” CNIL said in a letter sent to Google Chief Executive Larry Page and posted on CNIL’s website Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

The European Commission recently set out plans for new pan-European rules on data protection, according to the BBC.

“The CNIL and the EU data protection authorities regret that Google did not accept to delay the application of this new policy which raises legitimate concerns about the protection of the personal data of European citizens,” the letter continued.

Google intends to link information across its services so that information gathered in one place – for example, a user’s Google’s search terms – can be used to recommend content elsewhere – when they next use YouTube.

The CNIL said the software firm’s explanation of how it will use the data was too vague and hard to grasp “even for trained privacy professionals,” and added that they “will continue their investigations with Google’s representatives.”

According to The Daily Telegraph, Google has previously observed that the Working Party does not have the power to enforce its recommendations. The Working Party is to present further comments in mid-March.