Feeds

EU data bosses order Google to sort out privacy

Gmail, YouTube, Google+, search - they all know you

Top three mobile application threats

EU data regulators have told Google that it has to make changes to its new privacy policy due to "incomplete information and uncontrolled combination of data across services".

The regulators, led by France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique (CNIL), have spent several months investigating the policy, which basically allows Google to mash up all its previous 60 policies into one document and grab data on folks from across their services.

The data authorities said today in a CNIL announcement that Google needed to make the new terms of their over-arching policy clearer for users and give those users an opt-out option for each product so they can stop information being taken from one to the other.

A letter has been sent to the search giant outlining the changes that are wanted, signed by 27 out of the 29 countries' regulators involved. But although the EU is asking for alterations to the policy, it has not yet fined or threatened to fine the firm or accused it of breaking the law.

Google's Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel, said that it was reviewing the findings.

"Our new privacy policy demonstrates our long-standing commitment to protecting our users’ information and creating great products," he said. "We are confident that our privacy notices respect European law."

CNIL, which has been an avid critic of the new policy, headed up the probe for Europe's G29 countries and questioned Mountain View twice about the changes, but said the firm did not give "satisfactory answers" to its concerns.

Nevertheless, by analysing all the documents and mechanisms of the new policy, the data protection authorities decided that the web giant did not do enough to protect people's privacy.

"It is not possible to ascertain from the analysis that Google respects the key data protection principles of purpose limitation, data quality, data minimisation, proportionality and right to object." they said. "Indeed, the privacy policy suggests the absence of any limit concerning the scope of the collection and the potential uses of the personal data."

Google users can't figure out what categories of their personal information are being snaffled by the firm and what purpose that data is used for under the current policy, the regulators said, claiming that the policy made no distinction between the results of a search query and a credit card number.

The authorities also said that users had no control over the combination of their data across Google products like Gmail and YouTube, whether it would be used for product development or advertising or research. Google refused to give specific retention periods to CNIL, but the investigation found that the scope of data gathering was pretty broad and the information was kept for quite a while.

"The mere consultation of a website including a ‘+1' button is recorded and kept during at least 18 months and can be associated with the uses of Google's services," they said. "Data collected with the DoubleClick cookie are associated to a identifying number valid during two years and renewable."

Several of the recommendations are also backed by members of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities and Canada's federal privacy commissioner has similar concerns about Google, they added.

The web behemoth seems incapable of turning around these days without running into another regulatory probe. Google has just finished with a Federal Trade Commission case over ignoring do-no-track in Safari browsers, the EU is in the middle of an antitrust case that's analysing whether the firm uses its search advertising to favour its own services over competitors and that whole Street View data slurp stuff just goes on and on.

The UK ICO for its part had this to say in a statement supplied to the Reg:

We await Google's response which will be considered by the Commission Nationale de l'information et des liberties (CNIL), on behalf of the ICO and the other European data protection regulators. A decision will then be made on whether further action is required.

®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?
Wait 'til this one hits your pension fund where it hurts
Systems meltdown plunges US immigration courts into pen-and-paper stone age
Massive outage could last four weeks, sources claim
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.