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European Panel Slams Google's Vague Privacy Policy Answers
European Panel Slams Google's Vague Privacy Policy Answers
By Mark Long / NewsFactor Network Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus

European regulators criticized Google Wednesday for failing to provide transparent answers to a host of questions about the new unified privacy policy governing all of Google's Web properties.

European regulators had sent Google a set of privacy policy questions on March 16, and Google submitted its reply on April 20. However, the Paris-based Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes, or CNIL, said that it does not yet have enough information to complete its analysis.

Many of "the elements provided do not give a precise, clear and comprehensive response to our questions," said CNIL President Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin. "Many answers merely provide illustrative examples without describing the exact processings, procedures or systems Google actually operates."

On Wednesday the CNIL submitted an extensive list of rephrased questions to Google that clarify the regulatory body's expectations concerning the nature of the information that it expects to receive by no later than June 8.

"The fact that Google's position on personal data proceedings is still unclear on many points after an in-depth exchange with the CNIL raises concerns," Falque-Pierrotin wrote in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page.

Lacking Basic Information

Among other things, the CNIL wants to know how many times Internet users actually viewed Google's new privacy Web site from the last week of January through March 1st this year. And for comparison purposes, regulators also want Google to indicate the total number of Google services users.

"Given Google's extensive development and use of analytics tools, we are surprised that Google has not measured the impact of the campaign [notifying users about the privacy policy changes] in order to assess the efficiency of this information," CNIL regulators said.

The CNIL noted that Google has not yet delivered a complete list of its personal data processings, as defined by the European Data Protection Directive. Regulators also want to receive the complete list of the privacy policies that Google has merged into the new single policy for all of its Web properties.

Furthermore, the CNIL is concerned about how the new privacy policy affects the way Google processes each user's personal credit card, device, phone-call log and location information. Regulators noted that Google's prior response simply indicated that the information it collects can be used "to provide, maintain, protect and improve [the services], to develop new ones, and to protect Google and our users."

Personal Data Processing Questions

The CNIL's immediate goal is to completely understand just how Google processes personal data. Moreover, the regulatory body wants to obtain a clearer view of the links that exist between the personal data Google collects and the purposes for which the user's personal data is applied, as well as the personal data's recipients.

"Regarding the combination of data across services, the CNIL reiterates its concerns about the purposes and the breadth of these combinations as well as their legal basis," the regulatory body said. "The CNIL would also like to clarify the actual effects of Google's opt-out mechanisms and their validity as a means to exercise the right to oppose."

Additionally, European regulators noted that Google still needs to explain how it is applying the European Union's ePrivacy Directive to so-called passive Google users. These are the individual Web surfers who use Google's services while visiting third-party Web sites.

If the CNIL receives definitive answers from Google by June 8, the regulatory body expects to swiftly conclude its analysis and deliver its findings to Google by mid-July. Moreover, the CNIL will submit its results to the European Union's Article 29 Working Party, which may propose improvements for Google to implement to bring its new privacy policy into compliance with the EU's existing data protection framework.

Read more on: Google, Privacy, FTC, European Union
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