ICO demands clarity on Google data use

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today written to Google demanding that the internet giant make it clearer to its users in the UK how their data will be used across all of the company's products.

In a statement, the regulator said: “We have today written to Google to confirm our findings relating to the update of the company’s privacy policy. In our letter we confirm that its updated privacy policy raises serious questions about its compliance with the UK Data Protection Act." The statement continued: “In particular, we believe that the updated policy does not provide sufficient information to enable UK users of Google’s services to understand how their data will be used across all of the company’s products.Google must now amend their privacy policy to make it more informative for individual service users. Failure to take the necessary action to improve the policy’s compliance with the Data Protection Act by 20 September will leave the company open to the possibility of formal enforcement action."

Google faced heavy criticism last year for rolling out all of its separate privacy policies into one document, saying it could share user data across its various services, even including services not used by a customer.

A working party led by French regulator CNIL, said last month that Google had not been compliant with its demands to change the policy, meaning that its members were now considering how to punish the company.

A Google spokesperson responded: “Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services,” a spokesperson said.

“We have engaged fully with the authorities involved throughout this process, and we’ll continue to do so going forward.”

The Article 29 Working Party referred to above is made up of the UK's ICO and other 27 data protection authorities from across Europe. Similar announcements have recently been made by several other data protection authorities, including those in France and Spain. "We will continue to co-ordinate our efforts to ensure that people’s privacy rights are respected," says the ICO.

Written by

In partnership with