ICO Confirm Investigation Into Google Over Privacy Policy Changes

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Britain's privacy regulator has confirmed it will be launching a formal investigation into Google over the changes it made to its privacy policies.

The Information Commissioner's Office is part of a group of 27 European privacy watchdogs, led by the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), who vowed to take further action against the Internet giant if it did not respond to its demands to change certain aspects of how the search giant operates following a lengthy investigation.

The investigation over Google's unification of more than 60 of its separate privacy policies into one single policy last March last year was conducted by the CNIL, concluding in October.

Although for Google, the unification allows it to use data collected for Internet marketing purposes helping it to generate more user specific targeted advertising, the policy changes upset the CNIL led group.

The privacy watchdogs urged Google to improve its data subjects' information as well as taking further action to clarify the combination of data across its services.

The deadline to meet those demands passed in February and now a number of privacy watchdogs have decided further action is required.

In total, six European data protection agencies have now announced they are considering action. This includes the UK's ICO, as well as privacy watchdogs in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain.

A spokesman for the ICO said: "The ICO has launched an investigation into whether Google's revised March 2012 privacy policy is compliant with the Data Protection Act.

"The action follows an initial investigation by the French data protection authority CNIL. Several data protection authorities across Europe are now considering whether the policy is compliant with their own national legislation.

"As this is an ongoing investigation it would not be appropriate to comment further."

In defence of the Internet giant, a Google spokesman said: "Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services.

"We have engaged fully with the DPAs involved throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward."

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