Google's unanswered privacy questions: Europe promises action before summer

Google's unanswered privacy questions: Europe promises action before summer

Summary: European regulators plan to intensify their quest for precise answers from Google on privacy matters.

TOPICS: Privacy, Google, EU

Google is facing action in Europe after failing to answer questions posed by European regulators over its consolidated privacy policy, France's privacy regulator said on Tuesday.

Google has not provided "precise and effective answers" to queries put to it by European data protection authorities last October. The responses were intended to address perceived problems and gaps in Google's newly unified privacy policy, according to French privacy watchdog CNIL.

Google's new policy, which consolidated over 60 different privacy documents, came into force in March 2012 amid concerns by European regulators that it violated the European Directive on Data Protection.

Last October, European authorities, led by CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes), demanded Google better inform its users about the changes, clarify how data is shared between different Google services and provide precise data retention periods.

Despite being given four months to comply with European data protection regulation and implement the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party's recommendations, Google hasn't responded, CNIL said on Monday.

It's not the first time European watchdogs have found Google less than forthcoming on the subject of privacy: in January 2012 the regulators accused the company of providing "incomplete or approximate" answers to questions about how data would be handled under the unified policy that they had raised at the time.

"In this context, the EU data protection authorities are committed to act and continue their investigations," CNIL said. The watchdog will now lead a proposed working group to determine Europe's next move on the matter. While it hasn't set out what action it may take, it expects it to go ahead before summer.

A Google spokesman said: "Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward."

Topics: Privacy, Google, EU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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