Google privacy policy to be updated following pressure from UK govt

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has agreed to amend its privacy policy for users in the UK following an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The search engine giant has said that it will now do more to inform users about how it uses their personal data in order to ensure that it falls in line with the UK’s Data Protection Act.

In March 2012, Google updated the privacy policies on more than 70 of its web based services, including on Google+, Gmail and YouTube, despite widespread opposition from the European Union’s data protection watchdog.

They found that the Google privacy policy was “too vague” in describing how it uses the personal data from people using its services. It ruled that the updated privacy policy failed to provide users with enough information on how and why their personal information was being collected and used by the company.

In order to comply with the ruling by the ICO, Google has said it will make the information in its privacy policy clearer by June 30th 2015.

According to the agreement signed by Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president, the company will also  provide users with more detailed information on the how and why it processes personal data.

Furthermore, Google will also redesign the Account Settings page so that users can find information and have greater control on exercising their rights with regards to data protection when using Google services.

Speaking after the ruling, the ICO stressed the importance of organisations make sure they comply with data protection laws.

“It is vital that there is clear and effective information available to enable users to understand the implications of their data being combined,” said Steve Eckersley, the ICO’s head of enforcement.

Not only is the ruling by the ICO significant for UK based users, but it could also signal the benchmark for similar agreements between Google and authorities elsewhere in Europe, particularly in France and Spain, where regulators have previously fined Google over issues regarding its privacy policy.

Source: Information Commissioner’s Office

Related: BBC News report from 2012 on Google’s privacy policy

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