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Google quizzed AGAIN by French data watchdog

CNIL unhappy with previous answers on privacy

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French data regulator Commission Nationale de l'Informatique (CNIL) has demanded more answers from Google over its handling of the data of its users.

The watchdog said it was unhappy with Google's initial response to a 69 questions it submitted to Mountain View earlier this year, following the companies decision to cut and shut it privacy policies into one terms of service document.

However, CNIL is seeking clarity from the search giant on nearly half of the answers it handed over to the regulator, which has been tasked with probing Google on behalf of the EU's independent advisory group the Article 29 Working Party.

Google now has until 8 June to provide clearer answers to 31 questions from CNIL that it described as being "incomplete or approximate".

The watchdog, which signalled last week that it would demand more information from Google, explained why it had done this in a statement on its website yesterday:

The CNIL considers it impossible to know Google's processings of personal data, as well as the links between collected data, purposes and recipients, and that the obligation of information of the data subjects is not respected. The CNIL also notes that Google has not provided a maximum retention period for the data.

Regarding the combination of data across services, the CNIL reiterates its concerns about the purposes and the breadth of these combinations as well as their legal basis. The CNIL would also like to clarify the actual effects of Google's opt-out mechanisms and their validity as a means to exercise the right to oppose.

Finally, Google has not provided a practical answer on the way the ePrivacy Directive is applied for Google's “passive users”, i.e. the persons who use Google's services (advertising, analytics, +1 button) when they visit third-party websites.

CNIL met with Google representatives on Wednesday, but it didn't reveal that outcome of the confab.

Once the watchdog is satisfied with Google's response, CNIL will present a report to the Article 29 Working Party to "define its position and the potential improvements Google should bring to this policy to comply with the European data protection framework."

Google will be sent conclusions of that "analysis" by mid-July, CNIL said. The watchdog's latest letter to Google is here [PDF].

CNIL's request for more information from Google comes as Europe's competition commissioner this week heaped pressure on the internet kingpin to come up with "remedies" regarding four areas of concern where the company may have been guilty of "abuses of dominance" by allegedly favouring its search engine over its rivals.

But Google is playing hardball with Europe. When quizzed by The Register yesterday, chairman Eric Schmidt refused to be drawn on whether his company would offer up concessions to commissioner Joaquin Almunia. ®

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