European regulators have given a thumbs down to Google’s review of privacy policies across its services. They warned that if the company doesn’t buck its ideas up in the next few months, it could face fines across the continent.
The officials began the probe after Google announced earlier this year that it would combine its privacy policies for more than 60 products and services, leaving just a handful with separate rules. While that appeared to simplify and clarify the rules, it also drew attention to Google claiming the right to combine data about a user from multiple services meaning, for example, that the contents of your Gmail messages could affect the adverts you see on YouTube.
The European Union began looking into the issue through a partnership of the data regulators for each member state, led byFrance’s National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL.) 27 of the 29 regulators have now signed a warning statement aimed at Google.
The main objection is that users simply can’t tell how their information will be used and how long Google will store it. CNIL also complained that Google failed to fully comply with its investigation, with some answers to key questions unsatisfactory and others “incomplete or approximate.”
According to CNIL, if it doesn’t see signs of a credible response by Google in the next three to four months, it will move to the sanctions stage itself, which could mean fines. It also said regulators in other countries could follow suit.
Google responded to the criticism by maintaining that its privacy policies fully comply with European laws.
This investigation is completely separate from an ongoing European probe into Google’s competition policy, including the way it treats business competitors in its search rankings.