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Italian watchdog gives Google 18 months to change its practices

Makes the firm an offer that it will consider
Tue Jul 22 2014, 12:01
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THE ITALIAN DATA WATCHDOG has rounded on Google and told the web firm that it has 18 months to change the way it handles user data.

A statement from the Italian Data Protection Commissioner suggests that talking time is over and action time is here.

It said that users could be sure that Google, in Italy, will treat their data differently, and will not automatically use it for profiling purposes, unless permission is granted by the subject.

"The users who will use the services or the search engine Google in Italy will be more protected," it said.

"The Data Protection Commissioner has determined that the Mountain View giant will not be able to use their data for profiling purposes unless it has first obtained the consent and must explicitly state [that] this activity [is] for commercial purposes."

The announcement comes at the close of the Italian investigation into the impact of Google's 'one privacy setting to rule them all', which was announced earlier to a chorus of disapproval. While Google said that it was for the good of users, many others, including US state attorneys general and a number of European data agencies, baulked at it.

"We're updating our privacy policies for two reasons," said Google public policy director Pablo Chavez in 2012. "We're trying to make them simpler and more understandable, which is something that lawmakers and regulators have asked technology companies to do."

That was two years ago, and the controversy has rolled on since then. In January the French CNIL hit the search and advertising giant with a nominal €150,000 fine. Holland still has the changes on its mind too, and last November it threatened Google with the prospect of a fine.

Today Google responded to the Italian announcement, telling The INQUIRER that it will be looking at the recommendations carefully, adding that it has always worked closely with the regulator.

"We've engaged fully with the Italian DPA throughout this process to explain our privacy policy and how it allows us to create simpler, more effective services, and we'll continue to do so," it said in a statement. "We'll be reading their report closely to determine next steps." µ


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