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Dutch government: Google's use of user data 'forbidden by law'

updated 03:43 pm EST, Thu November 28, 2013

Agency demands prior consent

The Dutch Data Protection Authority has declared that Google's data-collection methods violate the country's privacy regulations. The agency has focused on the company's unified privacy policy, established early last year, which enables user data from various products and services to be combined.

"Google spins an invisible web of our personal data, without our consent," DPA Chairman Jacob Kohnstamm wrote in a statement, which was spotted by CNET. "And that is forbidden by law."

Google has maintained that its latest privacy policy is geared for simplicity and contributes to an improved user experience, however critics, including the DPA, argue that the changes are likely intended to enhance targeting for advertisements across the company's product range.

"Some of these data are of a sensitive nature, such as payment information, location data and information on surfing behaviour across multiple websites," Kohnstamm added. "Google does not adequately inform users about the combining of their personal data from all these different services. On top of that, Google does not offer users any (prior) options to consent to or reject the examined data processing activities."

The DPA has invited Google to attend a hearing, where the regulators will consider potential enforcement measures. The company is facing similar actions from the EU and other countries.

by MacNN Staff



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