France’s private watch dog CNIL, which is to take the lead in the analysis of the search giant’s privacy rules, had previously urged Google to halt planned alterations in order to scrutinise the policy’s details. However, despite the warnings, Google launched its amended policy on midnight 1 March.
The new policy has raised concerns because it means that Google is able to track large parts of a user’s online activity. The changes mean that private data can be shared across its other platforms such as YouTube, Gmail and Blogger, meaning an individual using Google’s search engine – if they are signed in – could receive adverts on all platforms related to their initial search requests.
In a guest blog for the Guardian, Google’s director of privacy for products and engineering Alma Whitten reiterated that user privacy remained a priority and acknowledged the changes had attracted increased scrutiny.
Preliminary findings from the CNLI, however, indicate that the policy fails to meet the requirements of the European Data Protection Directive regarding the information that must be provided to data subjects.
The CNLI said: “Rather than promoting transparency, the terms of the new policy and the fact that Google claims it will combine data across services raise fears and questions about Google’s actual practices. The impact on privacy and data protection is all the more important, given that Google represents more than 80% of the European search engine market, and more than 40% of the global online advertisement market.”
The CNIL now intend to address the concerns in detail with Google’s representatives by mid-March and have reiterated the request for Google to cancel its new policy until then.