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EU intensifies threats over Google's unified privacy policy

updated 01:47 pm EST, Mon February 18, 2013

Google dismisses allegations

European Union regulators have intensified threats over Google's unified privacy policy, which drew criticism early last year following its introduction. The group of 27 regulatory agencies in October advised the company to make a number of changes to the policy, such as a clarification over how personal data will be used, however the search giant has continued to voice confidence that it is not violating European laws.

In a statement published today, France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique (CNIL) claims Google has yet to provide "any precise and effective answers" to the group's recommendations.

"In this context, the EU data protection authorities are committed to act and continue their investigations," the agency writes. "Therefore, they propose to set up a working group, lead by the CNIL, in order to coordinate their repressive action which should take place before summer."

Google's unified privacy policy serves as a replacement for 60 disparate policies tied to each of the company's individual products. The terms were also tweaked to enable all of the user data from various services to be collected and shared across different products. Users are not provided an opt-out mechanism, however, essentially barring them from using any Google service if they do not agree to the unified terms.

Aside from increased clarity over the uses for such data, such as location information and credit card numbers, regulators recommended that Google ask for permission before pooling the data. The agencies also called for an easy opt-out method and a limit on how long the data is stored.

"Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services," Google said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. "We have engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward."

The agencies have yet to provide any specific details regarding potential enforcement actions if Google refuses to cede to demands.

by MacNN Staff



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