EU Official 'Deeply Regrets' Google's New Privacy Policy

by , Mar 19, 2012, 7:49 PM
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It seems that European authorities are still peeved with Google for rolling out a new privacy policy earlier this month.

The new policy allows the company to combine data from signed-in users across YouTube, Search, Gmail and other searches. While the company isn't collecting any more data than before, it now uses that data to personalize ads and other features to a greater extent. 

Late last week, Isabel Falque-Pierrotin, chair of France's National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties, said in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page that the CNIL "deeply regrets that Google did not delay the application of the new policy."

Falque-Pierrotin last month unsuccessfully tried to convince Page to delay the rollout, saying that the new policy violates a European directive requiring companies to tell people how their data will be used.

When Google rolled out the new policy on March 1, Alma Whitten, director of privacy, product and engineering, explained in a blog post how the company intends to draw upon the additional data to target ads. "In the future, if you do frequent searches for Jamie Oliver, we could recommend Jamie Oliver videos when you’re looking for recipes on YouTube -- or we might suggest ads for his cookbooks when you’re on other Google properties," Whitten wrote.

But Falque-Pierrotin wants more details. She is now requesting that Google answer dozens of questions about its new privacy policy and how, exactly, its personalization program will work. Among other questions, she is asking which Google services will collect data to personalize search results and which services will collect data to personalize ads. She also asks what types of tailored content -- other than search results and ads -- it sends to users.

In the U.S., a coalition of attorneys general expressed concerns about the change, as did consumer advocates. Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz lamented that Google was giving consumers a "binary and somewhat brutal" choice.

To date, however, no officials in the U.S. have said that they believe the new privacy policy is unlawful.

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