New Google Privacy Policy May Violate European Law

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Google is facing some new flack for its new privacy policy — set to be rolled out on March 1 — after the French data protection authority said the new policy appears to violate EU law. In a letter sent to Google Monday, France’s privacy agency, the National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties, said the company’s new policy “fails to meet the requirements of the European Data Protection Directive regarding the information that must be provided to data subjects.”

Last month, Google announced its new privacy policy with the aim of creating simplified set of standards across its far-flung services.

(More: The Basics Behind Google’s New Privacy Policies)

But the French privacy agency said the company’s new policy is confusing. “Rather than promoting transparency, the terms of the new policy and the fact that Google claims publicly that it will combine data across services raises fears about Google’s actual practices,” the agency said. “Our preliminary investigation shows that it is extremely difficult to know exactly which data is combined between which services for which purposes, even for trained privacy professionals.”

European officals have asked Google to delay implementing the new policy, but on Tuesday the company confirmed that it intends to go ahead with the change. Google is “not in a position to pause the worldwide launch of our new privacy policy,” Peter Fliescher, the company’s global privacy counsel, said in a letter to French authorities.

Meanwhile, Google is facing flack over its new policy from other quarters, as well. Three dozen state attorneys general in the U.S. have sent the company a joint letter expressing concern, and several lawmakers have also posed questions. A consortium of U.S. consumer rights groups has called for the feds to intervene, and in a recent interview with C-SPAN, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz did not sound thrilled with the new policy, saying it offered consumers a “brutal choice.”

In a statement, Google said that it is “committed to providing our users with a seamless experience across Google’s services, and to making our privacy commitments to them easy to understand.”