All the latest UK technology news, reviews and analysis


Google unmoved by ICO £500,000 fine threat over privacy policy changes

05 Jul 2013
google logo search engine seo

Google appears unmoved by the threat of a potential fine of up to £500,000 from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after it was told that it needs to update its privacy policies.

Google pushed ahead with a number of major policy changes last year, causing uproar at the time, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) vowed to investigate.

Now, in an update on its work, the data watchdog said it believes Google’s policies are not in line with UK law and should be updated. 

“We have today written to Google to confirm our findings relating to the update of the company’s privacy policy,” an ICO spokesperson said in a statement. “In our letter we confirm that its updated privacy policy raises serious questions about its compliance with the UK Data Protection Act.”

However, in response, Google issued a vague statement claiming it does adhere to UK laws, but it made no direct comment about the ICO's letter or its contents, or an intention to make any changes.

The statement said: “Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with the authorities involved throughout this process, and we’ll continue to do so going forward."

The ICO said that its main issues with Google's changes related to the clarity of the policies in place.
 
“In particular, we believe that the updated policy does not provide sufficient information to enable UK users of Google’s services to understand how their data will be used across all of the company’s products,” they said.

As a result, it must update the policies or face a potential fine from the watchdog. “Google must now amend their privacy policy to make it more informative for individual service users,” the ICO said.

“Failure to take the necessary action to improve the policy's compliance with the Data Protection Act by 20 September will leave the company open to the possibility of formal enforcement action.”

While the ICO's stance is likely to be welcome by privacy campaigners and shows the regulator baring its teeth, the threat of a £500,000 fine is unlikely to have executives at the firm worried, although the reputational damage from such an outcome could be more of an issue.

Chris Watson, head of Communication, Media and Technology at law firm CMS underlined this point by saying the breadth of Google's offerings and reach into all markets made it hard for regulators to keep the company in check.

“Google's business model and multi-faceted strategy means that its power is spread across several pillars," he said.

"This will make it difficult for the ICO, and indeed the European Commission, to find an appropriate remedy that will act as a deterrent. Fining alone is not enough, there will have to be a mixture of fines and prohibitions."

The move is the second time in recent weeks that the ICO has taken action against Google. It has already told the organisation it must delete Street View WiFi data by the 25 of July.

  • Comment  
  • Tweet  
  • Google plus  
  • Facebook  
  • LinkedIn  
  • Stumble Upon  
Dan Worth
About

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

View Dan's Google+ profile

More on Privacy
What do you think?
blog comments powered by Disqus
Poll

IT curriculum poll

With coding now compulsory in schools, how important are digital skills for the next generation of school leavers?
16%
16%
35%
33%

Popular Threads

Powered by Disqus
Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy Note 3 video review.jpg

Xperia Z2 vs Galaxy Note 3 video review

We pit Sony's 2014 flagship against Samsung's ruling phablet

Updating your subscription status Loading
Newsletters

Get the latest news (daily or weekly) direct to your inbox with V3 newsletters.

newsletter sign-up button
hpv3may

Getting started with virtualisation

Virtualisation can help you reduce costs, improve application availability, and simplify IT
management. However, getting started can be challenging

ibmv3may

Converting big data and analytics insights into results

Successful leaders are infusing analytics throughout their organisations to drive smarter decisions, enable faster actions and optimise outcomes

Customer Services (Fraud Prevention) - Night Shift-Kuala Lumpur

Customer Services (Fraud Prevention) - Night Shift...

Customer Support Specialist - Korean Speaking (Kuala Lumpur)

Customer Support Specialist - Korean Speaking (Kuala...

Customer Support Specialist - Japanese Speaking (Kuala Lumpur)

Customer Support Specialist - Japanese Speaking (Kuala...

[Japanese] Technical Support

We are looking for highly motivated, technically minded...
To send to more than one email address, simply separate each address with a comma.