According to Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, “Virtually everything that we want to do, I think, is somewhat at odds with locking down all of your information for uses you haven’t contemplated yet. That’s something I worry about.”
The policy in question was announced in January 2012 and came into effect later in March. For individuals logged into a Google account, the company can use information shared on one service in other Google services. For instance, Google could show people an ad on YouTube, based on what they have searched for in the search engine, or correct the spelling of a friend’s name in a search, from information in their Gmail accounts.
Page defended Google’s policy, saying that recently-released products, such as Android’s Google Now, a personal assistant app, would not be possible without it. For instance, Google Now can send you an alert to let you know when to leave to avoid being late for a meeting, by combining information from your calendar, your phone’s current location and the traffic conditions for your city.
Request to Clarify
Google is not alone in its practice of collecting personal data from users (e.g. sex, age, internet browsing histories), in order to customize services and sell ads. To keep with European privacy law, the company only collected data when its users “opted in.” Opt-ins were essentially a requirement of each service, and all users had to do was click the “I Agree” button before using a service for the first time.
Since last winter, European privacy regulators have been voicing their discontent about the new procedures, asking Google to delay their introduction. When the company declined, the European Commission asked France’s privacy agency, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique (CNIL), to take the lead on a legal analysis, which resulted in the October 16 letter to Larry Page.
Falque-Pierrotin went on to say that she would give Google three to four months to adjust their policy. Should the company refuse, she and other European data protection officials might take legal action or impose fines.
CIPP Exam Preparation
In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/Information Technology (CIPP/IT) exam, a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:
- Methods of data collection (I.B.a.)
- Consumer privacy concerns (II.A.a.)