EU to investigate Google data policy
French watchdog claims new rules are illegal
The internet giant’s new rules came into force today (March 1) and the EU is starting its inquiry after French data watchdog CNIL claimed that they breach European data protection legislation.
The new rules mean that Google users cannot opt out of having their data merged and used for targeted advertising.
Google is pooling the data on individuals that have been gathered from its range of services to tailor advertising at individuals based on their location and browsing habits.
Previously data collected from Google’s different services – such as individual search, YouTube, Google+ and Gmail – was kept in separate silos, but it will now be pooled.
Google provides its services free of charge. Its business model is based around generating revenue from selling user-targeted advertising.
On February 27 CNIL wrote in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page: “Our preliminary analysis shows that Google’s new policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection (95/46/CE), especially regarding the information provided to data subjects.
CNIL added that both it and the EU data protection authorities are “deeply concerned” about the combination of personal data across services. The watchdog added that it had “strong doubts” about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing.
Google claims that the data privacy change is simplifying and clarifying its rules by combining 60 different policies into one. It has rejected CNIL’s request to postpone making the changes.
Responding to CNIL’s claims in a blog posting, Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote: “As we’ve said several times over the past week, while our privacy policies will change on 1st March, our commitment to our privacy principles is as strong as ever.”
Google says it strongly safeguards the data it collects on users and does not pass it on to third parties.
Other search engines such as DuckDuckGo are attempting to benefit from consumer suspicion over Google’s use of data by emphasizing their policy of not collecting data on users.
It seems that many people are unaware of Google’s data policy. A YouGov survey of over 2,000 people found that 47% of Google users in the UK were not aware of the policy changes that were taking place.