The European Union’s Justice Commissioner is certain Google’s new product policy privacy changes violate European laws and was irked the search giant executed the changes against the protestations of data protection authorities.
EU 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.
Reding’s 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 1 March, because the new policies appear to break rules related to how Google informs users it is using their personal data.
This 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.
Critics 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.
Europe is not the only continent that is crying foul over Google’s new policies.
Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute Centre for Citizen Research, wrote on FoxNews.com 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 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, US 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.
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