EU to demand Google privacy policy reversal

Mon 15th of October 2012, filed under SEO

Tuesday press conference to reveal EU findings

Google is likely to be instructed to reverse changes to its privacy policy by EU data protection commissioners on Tuesday.

France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libert?s (CNIL) has been looking into whether the new system is in violation of EU law, and legal experts predict that they will find against the search engine giant.

In March, Google merged data from all its services, including user searches, YouTube and Google Maps, into one data cluster, suggesting that it would make the user experience better as it could more accurately tailor advertising and other content.

However, CNIL is expected to conclude that the switch went against EU law as users were not offered the chance to opt out of the new system. It is likely to insist that Google find some way of allowing users to revert back to the old system.

When the changes were brought in, users were given the option to either accept the changes or remove their account. The lack of a third option is proving a sticking point with European regulators.

Google has said it remains confident that its privacy notices are not in breach of EU law.

Google privacy under scrutiny again

While it is unlikely Google will want to go back and separate all the data again, it will not be the first time in recent months that it has been obliged to comply with the wishes of privacy watchdogs both in Europe and the US.

In August, it was fined a record $22.5 million (£14.42 million) for bypassing Safari privacy protections to access data for iPhone and iPad users. This sanction was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission, which had also imposed a 20-year privacy order on the search engine after finding privacy irregularities in the launch of its Buzz social network.

It has also fallen foul of European regulators over alleged anti-competitive activities surrounding search result order, use of third party content and advertising.

Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "If CNIL does indeed find against Google, it will be a big blow to the company and they are unlikely to accept the rulings without a fight. On the other hand, users will certainly embrace anything that gives them more choice when searching online."

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