Google unveils new privacy policy amid possible legal troubles

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VietnamNet English - 32 month(s) ago 2 readings

Google on Thursday officially launched its new privacy policy to consolidate user information across its services, despite sharp criticism and requests to hold off the changes from privacy regulators.

The changes allow Google to combine sign-in users' information from different accounts. For instance, if a Google account user frequently searches for "pasta recipe," he will find pasta cooking videos on YouTube recommended by Google and customized advertisements for pasta cookbooks on other Google services.

The move had immediately stirred up worries and blames after Google announced to rewrite its privacy policy in January. Some consumer advocacy groups said if users don't want their information from services like Gmail, Google search and YouTube combined to give a detailed description of them, the only way is to stop using Google services.

Privacy regulators and watchdogs have been casting doubts, saying that the company breaks law. The European Union regulators "are very concerned because they are persuaded that these new rules are not at all compliant with the existing European laws," said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Redding on Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV in London.

Earlier this week, France's National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL) sent a letter to Google chief executive officer Larry Page. The French data protection agency asked Google to pause the privacy policy implementation as it has been conducting an investigation into the possible effects of the new policy.

"The CNIL and the EU data protection authorities are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services," the letter reads. "They have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing, and about its compliance with European Data Protection legislation."

According to Tokyo Times, the Japanese government on Wednesday officially asked Google to handle user data carefully, saying the new privacy policy could lead to violations of Japan's personal data protection law.

In the U.S., several lawmakers have expressed their concerns to Google over the policy, saying that consumers should have the ability to opt out of data collection when they are not comfortable with a company's term of service.

Late last month, the Center for Digital Democracy, a U.S. consumer group, filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, claiming Google's new guidelines violate an agreement the company reached with the FTC to settle privacy complaints about the Google Buzz that has been discontinued in last October.

Although getting an earful, Google has been defending the changes and introduced the new policy as scheduled. It contends that users still have control over how they use Google's services as the policy only enables Google to share the information of users who have signed into their Google accounts.

"While we've undertaken the most extensive user education campaign in our history to explain the coming changes, we know there has been a fair amount of chatter and confusion," said Google in its official blog Wednesday night.

"The new policy doesn't change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google. We aren' t collecting any new or additional information about users. We won 't be selling your personal data. And we will continue to employ industry-leading security to keep your information safe," said the company.

VietNamNet/Xinhuanet

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