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UK data cops to Google: You've got three months to sort out privacy

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Google has been ordered by Britain's data watchdog to make changes to its privacy policy within the next three months, or else face a possible fine for failing to comply with the Data Protection Act.

The Information Commissioner's Office said late on Thursday:

We have today written to Google to confirm our findings relating to the update of the company’s privacy policy. In our letter we confirm that its updated privacy policy raises serious questions about its compliance with the UK Data Protection Act.

In particular, we believe that the updated policy does not provide sufficient information to enable UK users of Google’s services to understand how their data will be used across all of the company’s products.

The ICO said that Google needed to make its privacy policy "more informative" for its users and warned that, if it failed to do so, the ad giant could be leaving itself "open to the possibility of formal enforcement action.”

Last month, data authorities in France ruled that Google had breached the country's Data Protection Act, and ordered Mountain View to comply with the law within three months or else face sanctions.

At the same time, data watchdogs in the UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands also launched enforcement actions against Google.

France's Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) was tasked by Brussels' Article 29 Working Party with investigating Google's controversial privacy policy changes in March 2012. In April this year it found that the ad giant had not implemented any "significant compliance measures."

Google was not immediately available for comment at time of writing. It previously told The Register that its "privacy policy respects European law". ®

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