Google Privacy Policies Face Added EU Scrutiny

Google’s Street View cars are central to some of EU regulators’ issues with Google.

Regulators from the European Union want Google to adjust its privacy policies.

In a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, those officials asked for more insight into how Google utilizes its users’ voluminous personal information, particularly in light of the search-engine giant’s decision to spread that information across its services such as YouTube and Google+.

“Google should modify its practices when combining data across services,” the letter read, according to Bloomberg.

France’s National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL), which kicked off the investigation in February on behalf of EU regulators, plans on unveiling the findings of a Google audit Oct. 16. The Guardian claims that those findings will indicate Google’s privacy policies, which don’t offer an opt-out, breach EU law. Possible penalties could include fines.

“By putting the CNIL in charge of this, the EU was going for blood,” Chris Watson, a partner at the London law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, told the British newspaper. “It was a declaration of intent.”

Google has faced scrutiny from the European Union before. In the summer of 2010, a number of EU nations decided to probe whether Google’s Street View cars had inadvertently siphoned up several hundred Gigabytes of data from unsecured WiFi networks. That vacuuming also attracted attention of U.S. representatives, who queried the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to see if Google’s Street View cars had violated U.S. laws.

The European Commission (the EU’s executive body for proposing and enforcing legislation, including antitrust statutes) recently issued a plan for promoting cloud computing on the continent. That plan centered on three key components, including an adoption of common standards and certification, development of model contract terms for issues such as data ownership, and “better public procurement” of cloud services in Europe.

EU regulators believe that cloud computing could help raise the collective GDP to the tune of nearly 1 trillion Euros within the next eight years, in addition to helping make Europe a more competitive force in the technology world.

 

Image: A.Penkov/Shutterstock.com

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