Making sense of the Google privacy policy

Earlier this month we led calls for Google to halt implementation of it’s new privacy policy after highlighting how 9 in 10 people had not even read the policy.

Now the French data protection regulator, Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), has written to Google on behalf of the Article 29 working Group with 69 questions, trying to make sense of what the policy means for consumers. As the table to the right shows,  even seasoned privacy lawyers have struggled to make sense of the policy and how it will impact on user privacy. The table to the right summarises their concerns, with an awful lot of question marks demonstrating just how unclear the impact of the new policy is.

“Google’s answers will serve to assess if the combination of data across services complies with the European data protection framework,” the  letter states. According to the CNIL the questions “reflect the need for legal clarifications on your new privacy policy and in particular on the sharing of user data across Google services.”

The letter also notes how their questions “also highlight the difficulties end users may face when trying to understand how Google uses their data.”

Google’s new policy is a serious test for consumer protection in the complex and confusing world of online privacy policies. Big Brother Watch will continue to call for clear policies and robust consumer protection against those who seek to profit from the exploitation of our personal information and behavior.

If a team of lawyers working for several weeks still can’t make sense of what the policy means, what hope do the rest of us have?!