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Google kicks off its single privacy policy

Launches despite critics' alarms
Thu Mar 01 2012, 09:59

INTERNET SERVICES GIANT Google has rung in its single privacy policy changes despite being criticised widely and wildly.

As soon as Google announced its privacy policy consolidation it drew expressions of concern, and that criticism carried on right up to the eve of implementation and likely will continue.

Just yesterday the French Data Protection Authority (DPA) sent its objections to the changes to Google's CEO Larry Page, telling him that they could be both unlawful and unfair. The French DPA said that Google should have spoken with authorities and regulators and asked permission before deciding on its privacy policy streamlining, and should hold off on putting them into effect.

Google rejected such suggestions however, saying that it had offered to speak with regulators and did not believe its changes would be harmful to users.

"Over the past month we have offered to meet with the CNIL on several occasions to answer any questions they might have, and that offer remains open. We believe we've found a reasonable balance between the Working Party's recommendations: to 'streamline and simplify' our policies while providing 'comprehensive information' to users," it said in a statement.

"We are committed to providing our users with a seamless experience across Google's services, and to making our privacy commitments to them easy to understand."

The changes mean that user accounts are linked across Google's portfolio of services, between an Android phone and a Youtube account, for example, and that data is shared across them. This could mean that an Android user has suggested videos targeted to them on Youtube, for instance.

"Our new privacy policy makes clear that, if you're signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we'll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience," said Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product and engineering, in a blog post to users when the company announced the changes.

Google worked hard to inform its users about its privacy policy changes, however many have not been interested to learn about them. According to a survey from Big Brother Watch only about one in ten users looked at information provided by the firm about the changes. µ


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