Google has agreed to play ball with UK regulators to change how it collects user data in the country.
In March 2012, Google rolled out athat combined the policies of all of its services into one. But the ICO found that the newly combined policy was too vague and didn't adequately explain to users how and why their personal information was being collected.
Google has faced legal investigations and hefty fines over its privacy policies,where the laws tend to be stricter than in other regions. In response to requests from the European Union, Google has made small and gradual concessions in how it collects data and informs users of its data collection. But the search giant has had a hard time satisfying regulators, who always seem to push for more aggressive policy changes.
Google's attempt to consolidate its policies in 2012 was a key move that raised concerns in Europe. France's privacy watchdog, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), announced in 2013 thatbecause Google "has not implemented any significant compliance measures," despite a request for changes to the policy. Those countries included France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K.
- Google will provide clear, unambiguous and comprehensive information regarding data processing, including an exhaustive list of the types of data processed by Google and the purposes for which data is processed.
- Google will provide information to enable individuals to exercise their rights.
- Google will provide user resource covering data processed by Google and the purposes of processing.
- Google will implement several measures to ensure that passive users are better informed about the processing of their data and that publishers using Google products obtain the necessary consents.
- Google will enhance its guidance for employees regarding notice and consent requirements.
- Google will ensure, so far as practicable, that the requirements of the first principle are applied equally to all Google products, regardless of which terminal device the Google user is accessing them on, including mobile, tablet, desktop, and new hardware offerings.
- Google will launch a redesigned version of Account Settings, which will allow users to find a variety of controls and information more easily, and will more prominently feature the Dashboard at the top level.
In connection with the new agreement, Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, issued the following statement:
This undertaking marks a significant step forward following a long investigation and extensive dialogue. Google's commitment today to make these necessary changes will improve the information UK consumers receive when using their online services and products.
Whilst our investigation concluded that this case hasn't resulted in substantial damage and distress to consumers, it is still important for organisations to properly understand the impact of their actions and the requirement to comply with data protection law. Ensuring that personal data is processed fairly and transparently is a key requirement of the Act.
This investigation has identified some important learning points not only for Google, but also for all organisations operating online, particularly when they seek to combine and use data across services. It is vital that there is clear and effective information available to enable users to understand the implications of their data being combined. The detailed agreement Google has signed setting out its commitments will ensure that.