Google Reportedly Facing Privacy Policy Issues In Europe

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This year, Google changed its privacy policies, consolidating policies for various products into a more unified policy encompassing most Google products. This was announced back in January, and was implemented in March.

Google faced a fair amount of criticism over the move at the time, but for the most part, the concern had evaporated from the headlines. Now, however, it's back, as The Guardian reports, citing unnamed sources, that the change is expected to "come under fire from European data protection commissioners within days."

The group of 30 data protection commissioners from across the European Union, The Guardian reports, "are believed to have determined that Google has breached EU privacy laws."

Essentially, what Google's privacy policy does is allow the company to use data from its various products in its other products, which it maintains will only improve the user experience. For example, it could make recommendations on YouTube videos based on things you've searched for on Google. It can better target advertisers, and it can personalize search results.

Since Google launched Google+, it has, for all intents and purposes, tried to unify its various products into one central Google product. Those various products are basically features of the bigger product. This is further highlighted by the top navigation bar that appears across Google products. The privacy policy changes simply enable Google to treat user data as such.

Consider Facebook for comparison. Google+ is like Facebook's news feed. Picasa Web Albums (or perhaps Google+ photos) are like Facebook's photos. is like Facebook's search feature. Google Docs is like Facebook's Notes feature. And so forth. Such a comparison could only become more substantiated as Facebook launches its recently discussed search offering.

This is the way the competitive landscape is progressing for Google (at least one of the paths), and the company has made these changes accordingly.

It will be interesting to see if any action is taken against Google by the EU, and what competitive ramifications that might have for Google in Europe (and how that might affect how Google's policies are viewed in other regions, for that matter). Interestingly enough, Google also faces competition-related scrutiny in Europe as well.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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