France - US

EU countries take steps against Google against its privacy policy

Reuters/Andrew Kelly

Six European countries decided today to take steps against the against the American Internet giant Google, in an effort to force it to comply with European Union privacy rules, said France’s Cnil data protection agency.

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According to Cnil, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom “launched actions on 2 April 2013 on the basis of the provisions laid down in their respective national legislation” to force Google to abide by the EU’s rules.

This is a battle that began back in October 2012, when the data protection agencies of the 27 EU states warned Google that its new confidentiality policy did not comply with European law. A four month deadline was given for Google to make the necessary changes or face legal action.

That deadline expired in February, and several European data protection agencies then set up a task force to pursue a coordinated action against Google. Cnil added it had not seen any changes to Google’s private policy after the company’s representative met with the task force on 19 March.

It had notified Google that an inspection procedure was being launched.

In March 2012, Google unveiled a new privacy policy allowing it to track users across various services to develop targeted advertising, despite harsh criticism from both American and European consumer advocacy groups.

Google said the move allows it to simplify and unify its policies across its various services, such as Gmail, YouTube, Android mobile system, social networks and Internet searches. It has repeatedly stated that its privacy policy respects European law.

However, critics argue that the policy, which offers no option for users to opt out of, gives the operator an unprecedented ability to monitor its users.

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