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Google misses privacy-policy deadline, incurs EU wrath

Regulators plan "coordinated repressive action" before summer

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Google has been told by a group of EU regulators that it faces "a coordinated repressive action" before this summer, due to the fact that the online search advertising giant has ignored their order to make changes to and provide information about its privacy policies.

Last January, Google unified 60 of its products' individual privacy policies into a single overarching document that said the company would "combine personal information" as acquired from the different products. Some users complained, as did privacy advocates and regulators across the continent, with France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) being the most aggressive.

After investigating that new policy for several months, 27 of the 29 countries' regulators, led by CNIL, sent Google a letter on October 16, 2012, informing it that it had to provide users with an opt-out option for each of its products, and that it also had to make its new policy clear to its users. They also requested that Mountain View "provide precise retention periods for the personal data it processes."

On Monday, CNIL issued a statement saying, in part, "After a 4 months deadline that was granted to Google in order to comply with the European data protection regulation and to implement effectively G29's recommendations, no answer has been given."

At the time of the original October letter, Google's global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said that his company was reviewing the regulators' findings ad recommendations. "Time's up, Pete," the CNIL has now said – in so many words, that is.

Having not been provided, as CNIL put it, with "any precise and effective answers to their recommendations," the EU regulators will now continue their investigation and convene a working group "in order to coordinate their repressive action which should take place before summer." ®

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