New Google privacy policy ‘illegal’ says EU Justice Commissioner

Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, has announced that Google's
new privacy policy, effective as of midnight on March 1, represented “a breach of EU law”.

In the face of entreaties from the EU to cease and desist earlier last week, Google went ahead with the privacy policy update, and issued a statement declaring that they believed the “simple, clear and transparent privacy policy” was compliant with all European laws pertaining to data protection. However, in an interview with the BBC, Reding said that “transparency rules have not been applied”.

The change means that user data (such as browsing history) collected by one Google service will now be shared freely with all other Google platforms. Google claim that the changes will result in better targeted advertising for users and more user-orientated search results – but CNIL, a French privacy watchdog, questioned the legality of the move and wrote to Google asking them to “pause” before implementing the move. Google ignored them, but now EU data regulators have initiated a pan-European inquiry. Appearing on the BBC's World at One show on Radio 4, Reding stated that initial conclusions from the recently initiated investigations had left supervisory body CNIL “deeply concerned”, and that investigators had doubts over both “the lawfulness and fairness” of the legislation. Google privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said Google are ready to respond to any concerns CNIL may have.

A recent YouGov poll indicated that only 53 percent of Google users in the UK were aware of the new policy, and that only 1 in 8 users had actually read the new policy.

A breakdown of the guidelines can be viewed here.

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