French Watchdog Slaps Google Again Over Privacy Policy

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Both CNIL and the UK’s ICO consider their next moves

French data protection regulator CNIL has told Google it has started a formal procedure for punishing the company over its privacy policy, after repeated failures to make changes to it.

Google had been given three months to alter its privacy policy, as demanded by CNIL. The tech titan eventually responded on the day before the deadline, only to contest the demands.

google-london-officeCNIL was not impressed. “The chair of the CNIL will now designate a rapporteur for the purpose of initiating a formal procedure for imposing sanctions, according to the provisions laid down in the French data protection law,” the body said.

CNIL set to punish Google

Google has had plenty of trouble with its privacy policy, since it merged all its policies covering its various products into one document. CNIL had asked it not to press ahead with its “potentially unlimited combination of users’ data”, and to inform users how their data was being used and stored.

It remains unclear what action CNIL will take, but it has the power to fine Google, as it did over the Street View data breaches over citizens’ unprotected Wi-Fi connections.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) told Google it wanted the privacy policy changed to make it “more informative for individual service users”, saying the company could be punished if it failed top improve its compliance with the Data Protection Act by 20 September.

An ICO spokesperson told TechWeekEurope Google had responded to the data privacy watchdog and it was now considering what to do next. No details were given on what Google had responded with.

“Citizens rightly expect their privacy to be respected and those who fail to respect the law to be punished. If regulators have come to the conclusion that Google’s privacy policy breaches European law, the central question is what action they will take,” said Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles.

“This case is a critical test of the legal framework that protects citizens privacy and regulators must ensure that the outcome does not set a precedent for other companies to exploit out data with impunity.”

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