European Union regulators want Google to make changes to its new privacy
policy to protect the rights of its users, the EU's national data
protection re g ulators said in a letter to the U.S. internet company,
which was seen by Reuters.
The letter, which stopped short of
declaring Google's approach to collecting user data illegal, follows a n
investigation led by France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique
(CNIL) that began in February.
Leading the inquiry on behalf of
Europe, France's data protection watchdog had already questioned the
March. This consolidated 60 privacy policies into one and pooled data
collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube,
Gmail and its social network Google+. Users cannot opt out.
The regulators' letter said "Combining personal data on such a large scale creates high risks to the privacy of users."
Google should modify its practices when combining data across services
for these purposes," the letter said. It was signed by 24 of EU's 27
data regulators plus those of Croatia and Liechtenstein.
Google declined to comment.
the past, the company has said the changes would allow it to tailor
search results more accurately and improve services for consumers.
does not run foul of European law.
In the letter, the regulators
listed 12 "practical recommendations" for Google to bring its privacy
policy into line. The first five cover how Google tells people about how
their personal information and browsing records will be used,
highlighting location data and credit card data in particular.
regulators also want Google to spell out its intentions and methods for
combining data collected from its various services. They want the web
search giant to ask users for explicit consent when bundling data
together, the letter said.
The pooling of anonymous user data across Google services, is a big advantage when selling online ads.
and other large internet groups like Facebook provide free services to
consumers and earn money from selling ads that they say are more closely
targeted than traditional TV or radio campaigns.
Chris Watson, a
lawyer at CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, said "Google is being very aggressive
are very valuable to their advertising business."
"They may be prepared to test the legal position in Europe to see what they can get away with."
The tussle with the EU over data privacy comes at a delicate time for Google.
antitrust authorities are also examining the company's business model
to see if it uses its clout in search advertising to favour its own
services over competitors' offerings. Google is in talks with EU
regulators on the case, and could offer concessions.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012