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Europe Isn’t Satisfied With Google’s Privacy Policy Are You?

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Europe Isn’t Satisfied With Google’s Privacy Policy Are You?
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As expected, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique (CNIL), France’s data protection authority announced today that it, along with numerous other European data protection agencies, finds Google’s privacy policy changes (made earlier this year) unsatisfactory. The authorities say that Google does not provide enough info to users on its processing of personal data, does not allow users to control the combination of data among its “many services,” and does not specify retention periods. Google believes it complies with EU law. The EU disagrees.

Are you satisfied with Google’s privacy policy? Does it go far enough? What would you change about it? Let us know in the comments.

The CNIL’s announcement begins (as translated by Google Translate):

After several months of investigation by the CNIL on new Google privacy policy came into force on 1 March, the authorities of European data protection publish their joint conclusions. They recommend clearer information to people and ask Google to give users more control over the combination of data from the many services it offers. Finally, they want Google changes the tools used to prevent excessive collection of data.

European authorities have asked Google to provide clearer and more comprehensive info about data collection and the purpose for which all data is collected. These authorities want Google to present three levels of details that they say will “ensure information meets the requirements of the directive without degrading the user experience.” They go so far as to suggest interactive presentations.

One of the biggest concerns expressed in today’s announcement is that Google is not giving users enough control of the combination of data among its services. The authorities call upon Google to strengthen the consent of people for combined data by allowing users to choose when data are combined (such as with dedicated buttons on pages of services). They specifically cite the “Search Plus Your World” button as an example of what to do.

They also suggest Google provide better user control by centralizing and simplifying the opt-out process, allowing users to choose which services they want Google to be able to combine data from with other services. In addition, they want Google to distinguish tools used for security and those used for advertising.

The announcement concludes by indicating that Google has refused to engage on data retention periods for personal data, noting that a letter was sent to Google about this, signed by 27 authorities of European data protection.

Google hasn’t said much today so far in response to all of this, though they’ve certainly responded to concerns in the past. TechCrunch did manage to squeeze a statement out of Google Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer, who says, “We have received the report and are reviewing it now. Our new privacy policy demonstrates our long-standing commitment to protecting our users’ information and creating great products. We are confident that our privacy notices respect European law.”

It seems that Google is content that there is nothing in today’s announcement indicating that Google is violating any laws, which could simply mean that Google makes no changes to its privacy policy. That remains to be seen. Clearly, the authorities disagree, so this could lead to a legal battle.

You can see an 18-page response Google sent to the CNIL back in April here. In that letter, Google went through examples of its privacy notices to provide a “better understanding’ of the breadth and scale of its new privacy architecture. Here’s a sample from that letter, somewhat explaining Google’s position:

Users are accustomed to their products working together, and expect this consistent experience across their Google Account. The use of a primary privacy policy that covers many products and enables the sharing of data between them is an industry standard approach adopted by companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo! and Apple.

Giving users easy access to their data across Google products allows them to do useful things such as immediately add an appointment to Calendar when a message in Gmail looks like it’s about a meeting; read a Google Docs memo right in Gmail; use Google+’s sharing feature, Circles, to send driving directions to family and friends without leaving Google Maps; and use a Gmail address book to auto-complete contact’s email addresses when inviting them to work on a Google Docs memo or sending them a Calendar invitation to a meeting.

Our updated Privacy Policy reflects our efforts to create one beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google. The main change is for users with Google Accounts. The updated Privacy Policy makes clear that, if a user is signed in, Google may combine information a user provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we can treat the user as a single user across all of our products.

Essentially, Google wants to be treated as if its various services are simply features of one central product. That’s what the privacy policy enables it to do. Would you be concerned if Facebook was using data from your Facebook searching habits to better serve you Facebook ads from your news feed? Would you be concerned if something you did using Apple’s Siri led to you getting some kind of personalized message on iOS?

This is the kind of scenario Google is thinking about from the standpoint of its own products. Many of its competitors already have products that compete with various Google services, but for the competitors, in many cases, they are simply features, rather than separate services. For example, Facebook Photos vs. Google’s Picasa Web Albums. Apple’s Maps app vs. Google Maps.

The difference is that Google has started from a somewhat different place than competitors. It has acquired and launched services that were not necessarily integrated from the beginning. They were standalone services with different destinations. The Facebook Photos vs. Picasa Web Albums is a prime example of the difference. Facebook Photos are just part of Facebook, whereas Picasa Web Albums have historically been a completely separate product from other Google products.

Still, Google owns all of these products, and it makes sense both from a business standpoint, and from the standpoint of a user who uses numerous Google products under a central Google login.

Should Google be treated differently because of the product strategy it has followed over the years. There is so much talk about whether Google is anticompetitive or not. Wouldn’t preventing Google from being able to use its products together in ways that make business sense and improve the user experience only hurt Google’s ability to compete?

You can find Google’s privacy policy here.

Should Google have to make changes to its privacy policy? Let us know what you think.

Europe Isn’t Satisfied With Google’s Privacy Policy Are You?
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  • http://excarex.com Iain R. Stewart

    Dear Google,
    As a Scot, who is like so msny people in this UK, totally sick of that European Union, I would advise you to tell that apparently self-elected European bunch exactly where to get off. I think that it has no validity since it appears to be self-elected and its so-called parliament apparently has not had its accounts audited in the past 20 years. It seems to be the case that the Germans hate Merkel and I cannot say that I blame them. It also seems to be the truth that its origins are within the evil sick mindset of Nazism, and to find the truth there I would advise you in Google, and elsewhere in America, to go talk to the Jews in the USA.

    Rarely, I would say that you should only listen with half an ear, if that, to their utterances. It would be more pertinent for Google to give your attention to the critics within the USA and others who have no time whatsoever for that despicable and detestable EU. A part of me dreams of being the driver of the first Sherman tank to drive down the main drag, whether in Brussels, Luxembourg or Strasbourg to reduce their office blocks to rubble. Like Nazis, they have given themselves the right to stomp into other peoples’ lands with orders to shoot to kill. Tell them to “Foxtrot Oscar”.

    Look to your critics’ views elsawhere.
    My regards,
    A Scot.

    • Joons

      Mr Scot
      Thank you – I posted this in a reply above and here I go again.

      Here we go again a company fills a niche and delivers a product that people use daily and let’s face it all others are playing catch -up.
      I wish there was a “Do no Evil” 100% across everything that all business does in this world for us consumers BUT (here we go again) they are a business, if you use them for search it’s FREE – just like Facebook – hate them (I do!) or love them – it’s FREE – so companies like Google have invested Billions in their technology and their business and they have to pay their bills and monetize their business.
      Don’t like it – use another search engine (they’re free and collecting your info as well DUH!) – don’t want to use any of their other services from paid to free – DON’T.
      Grow up everyone get into your long pants and be responsible for your selves.
      OF COURSE the EU is going to try what they always do – shut down non-EU companies, put diapers on everyone and protect them from the cruel world out there.
      But just shake your head and ask the Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese and many others in Europe how nice and benign is the Brussels’ and Angela Merkel’s world of our way or the high way the right way.
      If the EU were a private company they would have been served with so many lawsuits, trade monopoly infringements they would be in court from now until eternity.
      Pot calling kettle black – no pot calling free market black – don’t like it – don’t use it – you have alternatives.
      This makes my blood boil – I’m a refugee from England and lived through the garbage that pulled that country into the mud in the 70′s and it’s now bent over for Brussels as well!

      Scotland the Brave – thank you!

      • http://excarex.com Iain Robertson Stewart

        Dear Joons,
        Thanks for your reply. If I were where you are, I would love to stand in that White House in the shoes of the President, and NO ONE BAR NO ONE would “cock a snook” (broad Scots for thumb a nose) at the foundation stone principles of the USA. I would have their souls on crosses for just thinking of it. Those folk who built their wooden boats and crossed the big pond were fleeing oppression of various kinds and that rancid cancerous Nazi/Stazi/KGB mentality that is the EU hates anything that represents freedom of thought. That Mucky Merkel (the old torn faced Pied Pisseress of Hagelot)was the one who stopped our getting a referendum on Europe.From across there, you should nake the website of the BNP, of which I am not a member, but I keep a regular check on their information along with the website http://www.civilliberty.org.uk, and possibly you could spread this knowledge about over there. It is a campaign group based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. It has pages relative to America and Americans should be reading them.

        Americans should be reading the possibly true facts about David Cameron and his possible belief that that utterly evil Sharia Law should be applied in the UK. Here in Scotland, my Nation is at present soiled by the Islamic SNP which I believe is in the pockets of Islam. Neither Robert the First (Bruce) King of Scots or Sir William Wallace (Guardian of the Realm) wouild have insulted their swords by putting any of this filthy SNP to them. On top of that Scotland has been soiled for at least 50 years by the parasitic Labour Party. Think Tony Bliar and his sidekick whose surname is at least the correct colour.
        My regards,
        A Scot

  • Ridiculous

    Well google doesn’t really care about privacy, for example, disable the web history… It doesn’t change anything google still spies on you to serve you ***personnalized results***, the web history button has became a placebo. It still uses your privacy to modify its search. I’m really surprised that a lawyer hasn’t sued google for millions of dollars about that issue… It’s just a matter of time :)

  • A Day

    as to regards to the privicy case I can see both sides of the argument, but I can also say that google like apple, like yahoo and many other services all have a eco-system, if I was in facebook, I now have a facebook account, I dont want it. But if I dont like it I can just leave facebook, apple have ipods, dont want itunes tgen dont use an apple product, same with google, it has an eco system, they work best by building information on what you tell it and do, if you dont want it to know something, dont tell it, search when not logged in or use incognito mode.
    The point here is here is a case about a parliament telling us it is not happy with its policy and once again saying the public dont have enough intelligence to choose what they do,. True there are people out there who have no idea what they are getting into, but that would be the same as them taking out a phone contract and sighning it(or in digital terms the I Accept the terms) and then moaning about somthing that they should have exspected, so my answer to this is please please stop intering with progress and let it become what the users want

  • http://tech-sharing.com/ Krishna

    Personal details and search preferences should not be linked to ad-serving and SERPs.

  • http://www.webunknown.co.uk/ Richard Speigal

    I’m completely torn on this.

    As an AdSense user I need Google to serve well targeted ads; it increases conversion rates and (ultimately) my site revenue.

    But as an ordinary user, it feels kinda creepy how much they know about me.

    There’s merit on both sides of the argument. Help!

    • Kevin

      Let’s consider, until the advent of the Internet and tracking abilities, advertisers never knew their audience that well, and yet everyone STILL managed to make money. IN the previous paradigm, at best a advertiser would know the general traits of the GROUP, but now they know the exact traits of YOU…. that is beyond creepy

      Also, if you’ve seen the movie Minority Report you’d recognize the trial I read about where a store has facial recognition to customize specials based on who you are…. creepy… how far away from having commericals beamed into our brains as we sleep are we?

  • Kevin

    Just ONCE I would like to see a complany like Google have a “privacy violation” policy/procedure that requires you to opt IN instead of opting OUT. Opt out policies, where the starting point is the highest level of violation possible, are downright criminal in the world where most users are not knowledgable enough to know what it even means, let alone how to protect themselves

  • http://www.satone.com Sat

    Well, here we are talking about privacy, What is private anymore.; First we are to think about the advancement of technology and where it is headed. When discussing privacy, we also need to talk about security, because even though it may not be the same issue I find that it goes hands in hands and takes relevance on many levels of privacy/security in explaining the issue of privacy. So the main issue is identification,then we have the rights of the individual, should a business have dominion over the information that pertains to you. This raises the issues of the Right to Privacy. Now we run into a problem, how legally enforceable is this. So we are looking at a subject that is certainly and will certainly take on the challenges of freedom in a Democratic form of government.

  • Ernest Marx

    come on people, it is the 21st century, you are giving away your civil rights due to terrorist plots to exploit the web, you are treated like a convict before you get in an airplane, and your biggest concern is Google using your “private data”. Newsflash, if it is on the web it is not private,the only privacy left is in the brain housing unit you are currently using. Google is good for business, it has a low carbon footprint compared to, say a paper mill. They have revolutionized many aspects of the web, it is only human nature to begin the process of tearing down the great things that are created and abuse them for thier own gain because they are not the owners or famous or rich from creating it. And of they cannot do that then by g-d they will pass legislation against them. Makes me want to run out and change the world. Bing Bites, and Yahoo hurts my head to look at. Leave poor old Google alone and I am fairly certain they will change your life even more, and has it really done anything bad for you to begin with? Find me on a cloud…….

    e

    • Joons

      Leave Poor Google alone is a bit strong but —
      Here we go again a company fills a niche and delivers a product that people use daily and let’s face it all others are playing catch -up.
      I wish there was a “Do no Evil” 100% across everything that all business does in this world for us consumers BUT (here we go again) they are a business, if you use them for search it’s FREE – just like Facebook – hate them (I do!) or love them – it’s FREE – so companies like Google have invested Billions in their technology and their business and they have to pay their bills and monetize their business.
      Don’t like it – use another search engine (they’re free and collecting your info as well DUH!) – don’t want to use any of their other services from paid to free – DON’T.
      Grow up everyone get into your long pants and be responsible for your selves.
      OF COURSE the EU is going to try what they always do – shut down non-EU companies, put diapers on everyone and protect them from the cruel world out there.
      But just shake your head and ask the Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese and many others in Europe how nice and benign is the Brussels’ and Angela Merkel’s world of our way or the high way the right way.
      If the EU were a private company they would have been served with so many lawsuits, trade monopoly infringements they would be in court from now until eternity.
      Pot calling kettle black – no pot calling free market black – don’t like it – don’t use it – you have alternatives.
      This makes my blood boil – I’m a refugee from England and lived through the garbage that pulled that country into the mud in the 70′s and it’s now bent over for Brussels as well!

    • leo dupuis

      I agree, do people go over the privacy policy carefully before they click agree? They have to have ads to offer free services now you have to pay because of all this shit! Why do people think the web should be free? They advertise or you pay!!

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com David Burdon

    What I find odd is the number of hoops a small business has to jump through before it can start collecting, keeping and processing data about its existing customers. Meanwhile Google has most of the known world pinned down and boxed into a highly exploitable database.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    Only fools, drunks and babies should be satisfied.

    • Joons

      and the millions of lazy EU benefits recipents

  • http://www.mindmagic123.com Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy Los Angeles

    I have no quarrel with Google crosslinking, it makes sense. My disagreement is they don’t provide a dashboard for opting out, thereby, (as is only too frequent nowadays), removing user choice. Or they could make it an opt-in dashboard, drawing user attention to their choices.

  • MCMC

    Companies who make a living from advertising and collect personal data, like Google and Facebook, are basically evil. They don’t respect people’s privacy at all. Even when you request “do not track”, they still do. Governments should take a strong stand against them. I am glad the EU voices our concerns

  • http://gocabrera.com Adrian

    Everyone should have the right to opt out and not have been presented with a “You will accept this or don’t use any of our products” ultimatum. Google makes billions every year with adwords as it is. Do they really need to pry into every aspect of individuals lives to make more money. I don’t think so!

  • Viking

    Google’s process and Googles paying the bill. Don’t like it don’t use Google.
    Always the same with all you socialists.

  • http://www.engage-2012.com/ Engage 2012 Conference

    I don`t think that anyone would be satisfied with this new Google`s Privacy policy. It just doesn`t fit anyone`s needs nor wants.

  • http://www.deviantart.com/prints Xana

    I don’t like others to do what THEY want with MY privacy. They don’t even have a dashboard where we can opt out.

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    Having spent time in France I remember that an important point regarding the CNIL rules was that people have the possibility to request from any company to see and check their own data saved by this company in order to modify them or ask for suppression if wanted. I don’t think that Google is able or willing to follow this rule..

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