Google to change privacy policy following UK probe


Google has agreed to play ball with UK regulators to change how it collects user data in the country.

In a notice released Friday, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced that Google will “make further changes to its privacy policy to ensure it meets the requirements of the Data Protection Act,” which spells out how data must be collected in order to ensure that the privacy of users is protected.

In March 2012, Google rolled out a privacy policy that combined the policies of all of its services into one. But the ICO found that the newly combined policy was too vague and didn’t adequately explain to users how and why their personal information was being collected.

Following an investigation into the matter by the ICO, Google has agreed to make certain changes to its privacy policy by June 30 of this year and to take further action over the next two years, the ICO said. In response to the agreement, Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, issued the following statement:

This undertaking marks a significant step forward following a long investigation and extensive dialogue. Google’s commitment today to make these necessary changes will improve the information UK consumers receive when using their online services and products.

Whilst our investigation concluded that this case hasn’t resulted in substantial damage and distress to consumers, it is still important for organisations to properly understand the impact of their actions and the requirement to comply with data protection law. Ensuring that personal data is processed fairly and transparently is a key requirement of the Act.

This investigation has identified some important learning points not only for Google, but also for all organisations operating online, particularly when they seek to combine and use data across services. It is vital that there is clear and effective information available to enable users to understand the implications of their data being combined. The detailed agreement Google has signed setting out its commitments will ensure that.

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