Google has been accused of pandering to brand owners – by putting their advertising interests before user privacy – after pressing ahead with today’s launch of its new policy, allowing private data to be shared across its platforms.
The launch comes despite concerns that the scheme breaks EU data protection laws; the Commission has initiated a worldwide investigation by France’s privacy watchdog
The regulator wrote to Google earlier this week, urging it to delay rolling out the revised policy. The call followed concerns aired last month by the influential Working Party 29 – a group of national officials who advise the EU on data protection issues – who also wrote to Google chief executive Larry Page, questioning the new approach.
Google has merged 60 guidelines for its individual sites into a single policy for all of its services. It claims the new set-up, which includes features such as ads tailored to private Gmail content and YouTube searches, will enable it to increase personalisation of search results.
But campaign group Big Brother Watch claims the company has not done enough to ensure people are fully aware of the changes, despite running pop-up warnings for weeks.
A poll of over 2,000 people conducted by the group in conjunction with YouGov suggested 47% of Google users in the UK were not aware the policy changes were taking place. It claims only 12% of British Google users had read the new conditions.
Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said: “If people don’t understand what is happening to their personal information, how can they make an informed choice about using a service?
“Google is putting advertisers’ interests before user privacy and should not be rushing ahead before the public understand what the changes will mean.”
Google privacy overhaul under fire