EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Google's product policy privacy changes violated European data protection laws by failing to gain consumer consent.
Union's Justice Commissioner is certain Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) new product
policy privacy changes violate European laws and was irked the search giant
executed the changes against the protestations of data protection authorities.
Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding told BBC Radio Four
that she believed
Google's changes violate European data laws by failing to consult consumers
making the changes, among other complaints.
comments came a few days after French data protection authority CNIL wrote a
letter to Google asking the company to halt the changes, which went into effect
March 1, because the new policies appear to break rules related to how Google
informs users it is using their personal data.
privacy rules from some 60 Web services, such as search, YouTube and Google
Maps, under one umbrella policy.
aims to treat users of those services who are signed into their Google accounts
as individual users, with services under the blanket policy sharing data with
each other. Google argued this would improve relevancy, and thus, quality of
service to users.
contend it's just another way for Google to create a better digital dossier on
users to bolster its online ad targeting. Either way, users can go along for
the ride, eschew the services covered under the blanket policy or access some
services while signed out of their Google account.
On the day the
policy went into effect, Reding said she would have preferred Google halt its
implementation until questions about the policy's compliance with EU data
protection rules have been resolved.
unfortunate that Google has gone ahead with the new policy before addressing
the French data protection authority's concerns," Reding told eWEEK
in a statement. "All
companies that offer services to European consumers must provide their
must be able to make informed decisions about using Internet-based
Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a letter
to CNIL, that
Google is "confident that our new simple, clear and transparent privacy
policy respects all European data protection laws and principles."
Europe is not
the only continent that is crying foul over Google's new policies.
president of the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, wrote
that "[Google's] abysmal track record on privacy
demonstrates why consumers, elected officials and privacy experts are appalled
by the change and by their continued indifference to privacy protections. ¦
Unfortunately, Google has proven time and again that if left alone, the company
cannot be trusted to be open and transparent with their customers."
Google critic Consumer Watchdog called Google's sweeping changes a "spy
move will help Google funnel data on users in one larger silo for targeted ads.
isn't telling you about protecting your privacy," said John M. Simpson,
Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director. "Google is telling you how
they will gather information about you on all its services, combine it in new
ways and use the fat new digital dossiers to sell more ads."
The chorus of
discontent extended to Congress. In February, U.S. Senators met with Google
Deputy General Counsel Mike Yang and Public Policy Director Pablo Chavez to
discuss the planned policy changes. The Senators believed Google's policy
changes would obscure pertinent information from users.
Last week, some
three-dozen state attorneys general wrote a letter
noting they were
concerned with Google's desire to have applications, such as Search, Gmail and
YouTube, share user data with each other.