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6 Euro Nations Prepare for Action Over Google Privacy Policy

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By William Peacock, Esq. on April 02, 2013 2:02 PM

It looks like we lawyers aren't the only ones concerned with Google's streamlined privacy policy. Six European nations, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain, and the Netherlands are all preparing to take on El Goog (shouldn't it be "Le Goog" in France?) over its refusal to budge on its service-wide privacy policy, reports the New York Times.

For those unfamiliar with the service's controversial privacy policy and terms of service, it allows Google to take users' information from any of their services to target advertising site-wide. Their separate Terms of Service also allow them to use your information "publicly" to "promote" services, though their privacy policy prohibits disclosure of sensitive information to third parties without your consent.

In other words, your personal photos probably won't end up on a billboard, but your YouTube video choices and email contents will lead to Google changing the advertisements that you see.

The new privacy policy, last updated in mid-2012, replaced dozens of separate policies that were in place for each of Google's many services. The hope was that a single policy would help users and reduce confusion. Unfortunately, it's also led to damage to Google's reputation and battles with regulatory agencies.

According to the Times, last October, the heads of twenty-seven nations' privacy agencies sent a joint request to Larry Page, the CEO of Google, demanding changes in the policy. To date, no significant changes have been made.

The enforcement problem, for the E.U., is that privacy laws are handled on a national basis. Each country has it's own laws and enforcement agency, which makes a unified front quite difficult.

Nonetheless, the French data protection agency, C.N.I.L., is leading the way. Their investigation began more than a year ago. Other countries are expected to build upon their work.

Obviously, as attorneys, we have to be overly-concerned with the privacy of our data. Often, we are shuttling confidential client information through email, cloud storage, and other mediums. Though we found nothing to be worried about in regards to Google's policies, it wasn't exactly an easy question to answer.

What are your thoughts? Is the constant chatter over Google's handing of user data causing you to consider switching providers? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

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