Google privacy policy challenged in the EU

A bicyclist rides by a sign outside of the Google headquarters March 10, 2010 in Mountain View, Calif. The company has instituted a new privacy policy that isn't going over so well with European officials.

Adriene Hill: Now to Europe, where we may be approaching a showdown between the European Union and Google over the website's new privacy policy. One of the EU's most senior officials says the new policy breaks European law.

Here's Marketplace's Stephen Beard.


Stephen Beard: Google's new privacy policy has raised hackles among users on both sides of the Pond. Personal data that the company collects through one of its services like Gmail will now be shared with all the others like You Tube. In the U.S., 37 state attorneys general have expressed their alarm about this new approach.

Now, Viviane Reding the EU’s Justice Commissioner, has gone further. She told the BBC she believes this is illegal under European law.

Viviane Reding: We have European rules which says very clearly that the data of the individual belongs to the individual. And it is the individual who decides what happens to this data, and not a company.

Google claims that its new policy is not illegal and will provide more relevant search results. The company adds that anyone can avoid targeted advertising by not logging into Google services. But Google must be worried.

The last big U.S. computer company to fall foul of European law was Microsoft and it was slapped with one of the largest ever EU fines of more than a billion dollars.

In London, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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