Google must change privacy policy, says UK watchdog

Google must change its privacy policy or face the consequences -- so says the UK Information Commissioner's Office.

Google must change its privacy policy or face the consequences. That's the message from British authorities, concerned at Google's use of our data.

The UK Information Commissioner's Office has warned Google that it's ready to bust out "formal enforcement action" if the search giant doesn't amend the privacy policy before 20 September, although a fine -- which could be up to £500,000 -- is unlikely.

Google has one privacy policy to rule them all, having combined more than 70 previous policies across its various products -- such as YouTube and Google+ accounts -- into one. Because it breaks down the barriers between different silos of personal data and has no option for users to opt out, the ICO believes the policy doesn't comply with the UK Data Protection Act.

Watchdogs in France and Spain have already told Google that the policy infringes local privacy laws -- French watchdogs warn that Google faces a fine of up €150,000. Germany is also investigating.

The Big G has been in trouble with privacy watchdogs before: Google was slapped on the wrist in several countries for capturing Wi-Fi details while driving around recording Street View , and was hit by a record fine for installing tracking cookies in Safari .

Is Google too cavalier with our data, or should the company be allowed to just get on with it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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