EU will tell Google to change privacy policy tomorrow, report says

The company's controversial privacy policy is reportedly in breach of an EU law requiring companies to give customers an "opt-out" option.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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The European Union, led by the French data protection commission, will take aim at Google's controversial privacy policy tomorrow, a new report claims.

France's CNIL will hold a press conference tomorrow to charge Google with violating EU law with this year's privacy policy change, the Guardian is reporting today, citing sources. Google's move, which effectively combined all of its privacy policies into one, violates EU law because it doesn't offer an opt-out to customers, the Guardian's sources say.

Google caught heat earlier this year for consolidating its many services under one privacy policy. In the move, the company also combined all of the individual information collected on each user across all of its services. In a statement attempting to quell unrest, Google said that the change, which has been implemented, would in no way harm users.

"We're not collecting more data about you. Our new policy simply makes it clear that we use data to refine and improve your experience on Google--whichever products or services you use," Google said at the time. "This is something we have already been doing for a long time. We're making things simpler and we're trying to be upfront about it. Period."

Soon after Google announced the change, privacy advocates pounced, saying that the move was designed to increase the company's advertising effectiveness. A collection of Google users also sued the search giant, saying that it should have been offered an opt-out.

"Google is now aggregating consumers' personal information without consumers' consent; has failed to provide a simple, effective opt-out mechanism,..." the suit claimed.

That lack of an opt-out has riled the CNIL as well. According to the Guardian's sources, the commission, on behalf of the EU, will request that Google go back to the old privacy policy. It's not immediately clear what would happen if Google rejects the request, though it likely wouldn't be good news for the search giant.

As if that weren't enough, Reuters reported over the weekend that several "top decision-makers" at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission believe that the agency should launch an antitrust case against Google over the possibility of it using its dominant search position to hurt rivals. Reuters' sources said that a decision on the matter could come down late next month or early December.

CNET has contacted Google for comment on the Guardian's report.