Europeans Looking at Google’s Privacy Policy

Europeans Looking at Google’s Privacy Policy

1st March 2012

It is March 1st today, which means that Google’s new privacy policy officially is “on”. Just a month ago the new policy was announced.

It now seems as if Google might run into a wall when it comes to European regulations. France’s regulator this week said the new policies might violate the European Union’s data protection rules.

The regulator has sent Google a letter in which they told Google that there will be a European-wide investigation of the policy. Google can expect some questions soon.

The letter said:

“Our preliminary analysis shows that Google’s new policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection,”


“The CNIL and EU data authorities are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services: they have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing, and its compliance with European data protection legislation,”

In the new privacy policy Google tries to ‘tie things together’: the policies of 60 Google products are now the same. Google has brought this as a good thing for the user, since they will only have one policy to consider.

That is true, but the interesting part for Google is that by tying all the policies together they can also tie all the data together. Now they can ‘officially’ (they did it already probably) connect your YouTube, Gmail and other accounts. That will without a doubt be one of the concerns for the regulators.

Another issue might be that the user cannot opt out if they want to continue Google’s services. Its give your data or get out.

In a response Google’s Peter Fleischer gave the politically correct answer:

“As we’ve said several times over the past week, while our privacy policies will change on 1st March, our commitment to our privacy principles is as strong as ever,”

On their official blog (which seems to have had a redesign) Google today explains a bit more about the privacy policy. The post is all about re-insuring people with statements like “Our Privacy Policy is now much easier to understand” and “Our privacy controls aren’t changing”. They also give some insights in what we can expect from the integrated policy:

“in the future, if you do frequent searches for Jamie Oliver, we could recommend Jamie Oliver videos when you’re looking for recipes on YouTube—or we might suggest ads for his cookbooks when you’re on other Google properties. “

The future

So what will happen? First of all it will take a while before the regulators have sent their questions and received answers from Google, so for the time being it won’t be much.

It however is yet another signal that Google needs to watch its steps. They are already under investigation to see whether or not it is using its dominance to keep other search engines out. Another investigation might hurt them a bit in the wallet, but more importantly, might hurt them in how people look at Google.


If any this would be a good time for Bing to start expanding into Europe as a ‘safe’ alternative for Google. They don’t seem to be making that move anytime soon though.

In the meanwhile they are taking pokes at Google, even if its just small ones:


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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