Six European countries move against Google over privacy

PARIS (AFP) - Authorities in six European countries have taken steps to force US Internet giant Google to comply with EU privacy rules, France's Cnil data protection agency said on Tuesday.

France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom "have launched actions on 2 April 2013 on the basis of the provisions laid down in their respective national legislation" to force Google to bring its privacy policy in line with European regulations, Cnil said.

In October last year, the data protection agencies of the 27 EU states warned Google that its new confidentiality policy did not comply with European law and gave it four months to make changes or face legal action.

When that deadline expired in February, several European data protection agencies set up a task force to pursue coordinated action against Google.

Cnil said it had seen no changes to Google's privacy policy after the company's representatives met on March 19 with the task force that includes the data protection agencies of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Cnil added it had notified Google that it had launched an inspection procedure.

Google rolled out the new privacy policy in March 2012, allowing it to track users across various services to develop targeted advertising, despite sharp criticism from US and European consumer advocacy groups.

It contends the move simplifies and unifies its policies across its various services such as Gmail, YouTube, the Android mobile system, social networks and Internet search.

But critics argue that the policy, which offers no ability to opt out aside from refraining from signing into Google services, gives the operator of the world's largest search engine unprecedented ability to monitor its users.

Google has repeatedly stated that its privacy policy respects European law.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.