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Google Changes Vague Privacy Policy Under Watchdog Pressure

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Online giant Google has agreed to change its privacy policy after UK watchdog Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raised objections over its wording. ICO, which regulates matters related to privacy, said that the privacy policy currently being used by Google was “too vague” as far as the matter of data collection of users was concerned plus it did not reveal anything as to why the company was collecting such a vast amount of data in the first place. After the watchdog stepped in, Google signed an agreement with it and promised to roll out a revamped policy that will offer more clarity over the company’s data collection practices.

Of late, Google has been facing a lot of pressure from the European regulators. The row with ICO comes soon after the company was forced to implement the “Right To Be Forgotten” ruling across the region and is facing heat over its anti-competitive practices. ICO’s allegations have put renewed focus on how the company collects and manages personal data of millions of its users.

As per the agreement signed between the two parties, Google will replace the current privacy policy, which was unveiled in 2012 when Google decided to bring a unified privacy policy for its products and collated over 70 different privacy policies, with a new one that will provide clear, comprehensive and unambiguous information regarding the company’s data collection practices. In addition, it would provide a detailed list of the types of data being processed and the purpose behind the data processing operation. The company has also decided to make it easier for the users to find information related to privacy as well as how it collects personal data from its users.

Google’s new privacy policy would also be compliant with United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act, the legislation governing the protection of personal data within the country. The company would implement the majority of changes suggested by ICO by June’ 2015 and make further improvements, including user testing, over the course of the next few years.

Speaking on the issue, ICO’s head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said that the development would significantly improve the type of information that the UK consumers receive while using online products or services. Although he clarified that the privacy policy currently being used by Google had not caused substantial distress or damage to users, he also added that it was vital for organizations to comply with the Data Protection Act and understand how their data collection practices are impacting the users. He further said that the investigation and dialogue initiated by ICO has identified critical lessons not only for Google but also for other organizations that operate online and seek to collect data from users.

Steve also said that it was important for consumers to understand how their data was being collected and used by online service providers. He added that that the agreement signed by Google would ensure that the personal data collected by the company is processed fairly and in a much more transparent way.

Google has published a detailed document on how the company plans to implement the changes suggested by ICO. If interested, you can download the document here

June 8, 2015

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