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EU says Google privacy policy likely violating law

updated 11:00 am EST, Thu March 1, 2012

Google unified policies may run afoul of EU rules

European Commission official Viviane Reding in an interview with the BBC's Radio 4 on Thursday said that Google's newly in-effect unified privacy policy was so far determined to be violating EU laws. Those managing data rights in the EU believed Google was breaking terms requiring that it be transparent on how the data would be used. Data was being handed over to third parties in a way that Google account holders hadn't agreed to, she said.

Despite having initially complimented Google, Reding believed that Google wouldn't have even been able to propose its new privacy approach under new data protection rules that had appeared just a day after Google's notice. Under the EU terms, users have to be clearly told what will happen to their data.

The EU hadn't been consulted, Reding added. Google may have antagonized the Commission after it refused to freeze its policy implementation to verify whether it was legal under EU laws.

Google has argued that its new approach, which consolidates 60 of its 70 total policies into one. While meant to give users an easier-to-understand notion of what they're agreeing to, concerns have existed that it was takign control out of users' hands and sharing information in one service with another while not giving consent. Google has said control remains for individual services, but its approach is still mostly all-or-nothing and makes it difficult to only agree to use for one service. [via Reuters]



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. aardman

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2009

    +4

    Straight from the Facebook playbook

    Unilaterally changing your privacy settings without your approval. They think telling you about it in advanced is enough. It's not. The burden is still on you to prevent it, if you can prevent it at all which is not clear.

    Instead, what they should do is redirect all users who log into Google account to a webpage which asks:

    Do you want to merge all your google personal information across all the different Google services you use? Yes or No.

    If not, check which ones you wish to merge.

    It's that simple. But will they do it? Noooooooooo.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Mar 2004

    +5

    Most should be illegal

    Almost all existing "privacy" policies out there should be deemed illegal because the firms intentionally obfuscate the reality of their policies. Verbiage is buried in layers and legalese. The firms think it is "business" but I think it is criminal behavior.

    The law should make clear, significant financial penalties (like, $100 per person per event) that apply to improperly shared data, with the burden of proof on the WEB FIRM.

    Like the first poster above, I agree it must be OPT-IN, but I believe there should be no such thing as "share across all Google services." _Each_ service should be a check box with an associated description of what each "service" actually is, and penalties for misleading language.

    The same thing for "share with partners." _Each_ partner should be a check box with an associated description of whom each "partner" actually is, and partners should be equally liable.

    Sleaze web firms like Google no doubt consider such restrictions too limiting to their business model but that is BS. Firms have no inherent right to con users, and that is what existing privacy policies mostly do.

    Ethics in business benefit everyone in the long run. If mortgage contracts, for instance, had not been _intentionally_ obfuscated by realtors, mortgage brokers and Wall Street for decades the housing crash would probably have been much less serious if it happened at all.

  1. abnyc

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2000

    -1

    no s*** ...

    sherlock!!!

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007

    +2

    I've already kicked it

    off my browsers. I'm contemplating killing my email account.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -1

    Re: Most should be illegal

    The law should make clear, significant financial penalties (like, $100 per person per event) that apply to improperly shared data, with the burden of proof on the WEB FIRM.

    So your theory is "Guilty until proven innocent"? Yeah, that's great, until 500 people sue Apple over improperly shared data, and then we'll hear how they should prove it happened, not Apple prove it didn't happen.

    BTW, how do you prove you didn't share data? The only possible way might be to have to release every communication, email message, data log, etc, to a bunch of money-thieving lawyers to have them pour over, and even then, they'll just claim that some data was omitted.

    _Each_ service should be a check box with an associated description of what each "service" actually is, and penalties for misleading language.

    Isn't this something you should also be demanding of Apple? Are they sharing your iTMS info with your MobileMe info with your iOS info with your Mac info with your iCloud info? Are we sure they aren't? And why aren't you verifying that?

    And why should all services from a company be kept 'separate'? Users should have to manage 50 different settings for their accounts (wait, isn't that what the complaint on Facebook was, it was too hard to manage your preferences?). And what differentiates one 'service' from 'another'. Why is youtube considered separate from google video from google search? Or what if they decide to integrate the services more. Are they then still different, even though they're still the same?

    The same thing for "share with partners." _Each_ partner should be a check box with an associated description of whom each "partner" actually is, and partners should be equally liable.

    Yes, because users will want to look through a list of 5000 other companies with which they might do business with.

    Ethics in business benefit everyone in the long run. If mortgage contracts, for instance, had not been _intentionally_ obfuscated by realtors, mortgage brokers and Wall Street for decades the housing crash would probably have been much less serious if it happened at all.

    The housing crash had nothing to do with obfuscated mortgage contracts. It had everything to do with idiot people not understanding the simple concept of an ARM or how much they could afford. And then the mortgage folks started giving mortgages to people who couldn't afford a house (you know, like people being unemployed, or making $50,000 a year and buying a $500,000 house).

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