Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

The EU Takes a Red Pen to Google’s Privacy Policy

As expected, European regulators today told Google they want some adjustments to its privacy policy, which was merged and revised at the beginning of this year as the company increasingly tries to bring all its services under one roof.

Google CEO Larry Page

It’s not necessarily clear that there are any teeth behind these recommendations, though the French National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties talked up sanctions and enforcement at a news conference in Paris earlier today, where 27 European data protection authorities signed onto a letter sent to Google CEO Larry Page. As of today, there was no finding of illegality and no imposition of a fine.

Google’s official statement on the matter from Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel is: “We have received the report and are reviewing it now. Our new privacy policy demonstrates our long-standing commitment to protecting our users’ information and creating great products. We are confident that our privacy notices respect European law.”

Here’s a sampling of the requests:

  • Google should be clearer about what data it is collecting and give users better control of it. Data collection should “remain proportionate to the purposes pursued.”
  • The EU specified multiple levels of detail it wants and suggested Google create a better user experience for its privacy policy. For instance, it ever-so-politely states, “The ergonomics of the Policy could also be improved with interactive presentations.”
  • Google should put all its opt-outs together, and make it easier to opt out of new services and combinations of services.
  • The company shouldn’t combine user data meant for different purposes, like security and advertising.
  • Google should provide clear timeframes for data retention.
  • Some countries are particularly concerned about facial recognition and want better warnings about collection of biometric data.

The letter is embedded below, and you can find the full recommendations here.

20121016 EU Letter Google Article 29 FINAL

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