Google may breach EU Data protection law

In a letter to Google CEO Larry Page today, French data protection regulator CNIL has warned  Google’s new privacy policy appears to violate the European Union’s data protection rules.

As our research published today shows, nine in ten people haven’t read the policy, with 47% of people who use a Google service regularly not knowing any change was being proposed.

The way Google collects and uses personal information has been a concern for privacy groups around the world, and the new policy will allow Google to combine everything it knows about you to better target advertisements – which is after all how it makes its money.

We have called for the company to not implement the new policy until its impact is fully understood and consumers can be confident there is adequate privacy protection in place.

Now CNIL have renewed their request to pause implementation of the policy pending a full review, saying Europe’s data protection authorities “are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data cross services.” As we have also highlighted, the new privacy policy’s vague wording was cited as being difficult to understand “even for trained privacy professionals”.

According to the letter the European regulators “have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing, and about its compliance with” regional rules, and CNIL said its “preliminary analysis shows that Google’s new policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection”.

The impact of Google’s new policy cannot be understated, but the public are in the dark about what the changes actually mean.

Companies should not be allowed to bury in legal jargon and vague statements how they handle our personal information, and it is very positive that the Article 29 Working Group are seeking to ensure consumers understand what the detail of Google’s new privacy policy means.

If people don’t understand what is happening to their personal information, how can they make an informed choice about using a service?



Here is a step by step guide on how to delete your Google browsing history before the new privacy policy begins tomorrow.


  1. Pix
    28th February 2012

    Yes it is time for plain wording that we call all understand. Privacy policies should not be difficult to understand – when they are they are likely to be misunderstood. If we are not properly informed then we cannot make informed choices (as mentioned at the end of the article above). Don’t you get p’d off that so many things these days hide behind small print and legal jargon so that they can do what they like because we don’t realise what is happening. 

    • Nick
      15th March 2012

      Did you, by any chance, read Google’s privacy policy? Your post seems to indicate that you never even clicked on the link. E.g., there is no small print and it is in plain English. It is extremely short and clear. And I have not seen a single article that complains about it quoting something that is a problem in the policy.

  2. Peter_Aranoid
    1st March 2012

    NOBODY IS FORCING YOU TO USE GOOGLE!!! If you don’t like it, don’t use it or simply change your browsing preferences you morons. One proviso – please then don’t have the temerity to complain when the browsing experience isn’t what you expected

    I notice that from taking a look at the source code of this website that my visits to this site are being tracked. All very Big Brother don’t you think? What are Big Brother Watch doing with all this data I wonder? Heaven forbid they are tracking and monitoring your every move in order to make the website experience better for the end user. That would be a clear violation of my Civil Liberties – but hey! I can just choose not to visit so what’s the problem.

    I’m off to YouTube – but BBW will know that because they will have tracked me via their Piwik software

    • Peter_Aranoid
      1st March 2012

       Oh and by the way. There’s no clearly visible Privacy Policy on this website either telling me what the owners will be doing with the information they capture. Even Google have one of these!

      Tut tut. I’m going to complain

    • Winston Smith
      19th March 2012

       I don’t use google. The point is that google track you regardless. You go to various sites (including this one) and there are various trackers, including google. They can’t track me (the wonders of tor, ghostery etc) but most people just don’t know enough to avoid google.

      I agree with you re this site’s use of trackers. Shameful.