European regulators urge Google to delay privacy policy over legal doubts

Google: faces European opposition to its privacy policy
Google: faces European opposition to its privacy policy

Google's latest privacy policy has come under fire from European data regulators, who claim their initial analysis shows the policy does not comply with their regulations and have reiterated calls for Google to delay its introduction.

The policy is due to take effect tomorrow (1 March). Last month, Google announced plans to consolidate more than 60 different product-related privacy policies, which it said would provide users with a more intuitive experience and more relevant ads.

Yesterday, French data regulator CNIL reiterated calls for Google to pause the rollout, saying it was "deeply concerned" about the combination of data across its services, and it had "strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing".

The UK data regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office, said its views were represented by CNIL, which was leading the response of the Article 29 Working Party group of European data regulators to Google's changes.

CNIL has sent a letter to Larry Page, chief executive of Google, informing him that it has begun an investigation into the new privacy policy on behalf of data protection authorities in the EU.

It said that while these authorities welcomed Google’s "large" campaign telling its users about the new policy, the search giant failed to take a "real opportunity" to consult authorities before it announced the policy in January.

It added that not all authorities were informed about the changes, while some were given a few days' notice, despite Google's claims that they had been "extensively pre-briefed."

The letter said preliminary analysis showed "the policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection, especially regarding the information provided to data subjects".

It argued that because of the wide variety of Google's online services, the new policy only provided general information, making it impossible for users who were new to Google to understand how their data was being used across the services.

It added that Google's effort to streamline its privacy policy came "at the expense of transparency and comprehensiveness for users".

Google said in a statement that it had tried to meet with the CNIL on several occasions over the past month to answer any questions.

The statement said: "We believe we've found a reasonable balance between the working party's recommendations: to 'streamline and simplify' our policies while providing 'comprehensive information' to users.

"We are committed to providing our users with a seamless experience across Google's services, and to making our privacy commitments to them easy to understand."

The letter was sent on the same day that Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, urged regulators not to restrict privacy to the point where it stifled innovation, during a keynote speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

He said: "If you have to regulate, try to regulate the outcome, not the technology. If there's an outcome that you don't like, don't specify in law a technical solution, because technology moves forward."

The latest news will come as a blow to Google, which is facing probes by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic into claims that it is anti-competitive.

Last week, Google was lambasted over privacy, after reports emerged claiming it had bypassed Apple's Safari browser privacy-protection measures, to drop cookies.

Follow Sarah Shearman on Twitter @Shearmans


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug