Google Play's Privacy Policies Assailed by Software Developer

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-02-14 Print this article Print

Google's privacy policies for its customers have been in the cross hairs of governments around the world in recent years.

In October 2012, Google's privacy policies were assailed by the European Union in connection  with how the company uses the data it collects about its online users who employ their extensive services. In a report, the EU said that Google's efforts to track users across services such as YouTube and Gmail do not meet European standards of privacy. The EU recommended a series of steps that Google could take to improve compliance, including offering opt-out measures for users to control the data that is collected about them by Google.

In January 2012, Google announced major changes to its data privacy policies, which folded 60 of its 70 previously separate product privacy policies under one blanket policy and broke down the identity barriers between some of its services to accommodate its then-new Google+ social network, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Google's streamlining came as regulators continued to criticize Google, Facebook and other Web service providers for offering long-winded and legally gnarled privacy protocols. The Google privacy policy changes went into effect March 1, 2012.

The biggest change that was enacted concerned Google's user accounts. When users are signed in, Google may combine identity information users provided from one service with information from other services. The goal is to treat each user as one individual across all Google products, such as Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube and other Web services.

In May 2012, French regulators accused Google of not being cooperative with investigators looking into privacy issues concerning the company and its practices there. A French regulatory agency said it had sent Google a questionnaire about the new privacy policy in March, and that Google's answers, which were received in April, were "often incomplete or approximate." A follow-up survey also left questions remaining.

In July 2012, Google reached a record $22.5 million settlement with the FTC to resolve charges that Google bypassed Apple Safari browser privacy settings that blocked cookies for their users.


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