- SMB Spotlight
Google's handling of its users' data has been found to be in breach of Dutch privacy laws, following an investigation from the country's privacy watchdog.
Following a seven-month investigation, the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) has asked Google to attend a meeting to discuss its concerns, which relate to the way Google handles user data across its services.
The DPA explained in its report that Google utilises customer data from one service and applies it to another, and does not clearly enough explain to users how it does so. "Google does not adequately inform users about the combining of their personal data from all these different services," a DPA statement read.
"On top of that, Google does not offer users any (prior) options to consent to or reject the examined data processing activities. The consent, required by law, for the combining of personal data from different Google services cannot be obtained by accepting general (privacy) terms of service."
Google has found itself in hot water with data protection authorities before, most recently with its Gmail service. In a court filing following complaints from US rights group Consumer Watchdog about the firm's use of advertising based on the contents of users' emails, Google said users should not expect total email privacy.
"Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient's assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient's [email provider] in the course of delivery," the statement said.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has turned to poking fun at Google and its perceived privacy failings with its "Scroogled" campaign. The firm produces regular videos on the topic and has even created a range of Scroogled merchandise in time for Christmas.