CNIL, the French data protection regulator tasked by the EC Article 29 Working Party to pore over Google’s policy changes, said Google’s new policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on data protection. The new policies appear to break rules related to how Google informs users it is using their personal data.
Running the risk
CNIL asked Google to halt its policy changes but the company is pushing ahead regardless.
He also said the company would continue with the changes as planned because it has notified more than 350 million Google account owners and provided “highly visible notifications” on Google’s website for non-authenticated users. “To pause now would cause a great deal of confusion for users,” Fleischer added.
Critics contend it is merely another way for Google to create a detailed digital dossier on users to bolster its online ad targeting. Either way, users can go along for the ride, eschew the services covered under the blanket policy, or access some services while signed out of their Google account.
However, CNIL, which also disputed Google’s public contention that European Commission’s data protection authorities had been “extensively pre-briefed” on the changes, said Google’s policy changes did not make it clear how data from each of the services would be shared.
CNIL wants Google to consider providing users with condensed notices of how it uses customer data, followed by detailed explanations how each service uses this information. In the meantime, CNIL requested that Google halt its policy changes before triggering them today.
Google believes it does not violate Europe’s data protection rules.
Even so, all is not well at home in the US. Earlier this month, US Senators met with Google deputy general counsel Mike Yang and public policy director Pablo Chavez to discuss the planned policy changes. The Senators believed Google’s policy changes would obscure pertinent information from users.
Republican Joe Barton said Google “danced around the actual details” and spoke in generalities. Mary Bono Mack, also a Republican, said she did not think the Google officials were “very forthcoming necessarily in what this really means for the safety of our families and our children and ourselves”.
Last week, US Attorneys General banded together to express their concern over the policy changes. Some three dozen of them signed a letter noting they were concerned with Google’s desire to have applications such as Search, Gmail and YouTube share user data with each other.
If there is an agency in position to interpose on behalf of consumers, it is the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While it has yet to formally announce any action to stop Google’s policy changes, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said on C-Span’s Newsmakers: “It’s a fairly binary and somewhat brutal choice that they are giving consumers. I think I can’t say much more – but we’re aware.”
The FTC may be withholding action because it is already investigating Google for antitrust violations regarding its search advertising business.
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