Google To Face EU Action For Failing To Resolve Privacy Concerns

The Washington Post reports search giant Google will face coordinated action by European Union (EU) data protection regulators after attempts to make Google’s new integrated privacy policy comply with privacy laws fell apart:

A taskforce of agencies led by France’s National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties today began follow-up measures in line with their national laws after a meeting with Google yielded “no changes,” the regulator known as CNIL said in an e-mailed statement today. U.K., German, Italian, Spanish and Dutch watchdogs are also part of the taskforce.

Google announced the new privacy policy objected to by the EU states over a year ago. Under the policy, the search giant can combine information provided from one service with information from other services to create a comprehensive profile of an individual’s online behavior across Google products. Privacy protections in the EU, where an umbrella Data Protection Directive leads much of the privacy policy, are generally more stringent than in the U.S., where a “patchwork” of legislation defines online privacy rights.

While Google has been somewhat ahead of the game on protecting consumer data from government snooping, such as requiring warrants for email content data, they have faced a number of sanctions for questionable data collection practices including in the U.S. They agreed to a $22.5 million Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement for bypassing Safari privacy settings in 2012 and a $7 million fine in March of this year for the “Wi-Spy” incident in which Google Streetview Cars collected information from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks without consent — both of which amounted to mere hours of 2012 revenues.


Yesterday it was revealed that Google’s first Privacy Director, the London-based Alma Whitten, is stepping down and will be replaced by a California-based long-time Google engineer Lawrence You.