Google Told to Clarify Consumer Privacy Policy or Face Potential Fines

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has officially written to Google, informing them that they need to better articulate their aggregated privacy policy or potentially incur a fine.

This issue started in March 2012, when Google combined around 70 different privacy policies across its services into a single policy, stating they did so to provide "a simpler, more intuitive Google experience."

Led by the French data protection authority CNIL, EU officials disagreed and six national authorities were tasked with commencing action against Google. Following an ICO investigation, they ruled that Google's updated privacy 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."

If the Internet giant fails to make its privacy policy "more informative for individual service users" by 20 September, they will be open to the "possibility of formal enforcement action."

Thus far, Google continues to insist that it is operating within European laws and has given no indication it is willing to compromise. In addition, the ICO is in uncharted territory as it has never before handled a dispute with an international corporate that possess the financial clout of Google.

The next step is that the ICU will issue an enforcement notice. If Google subsequently defies or appeals the enforcement, the case would then become a matter for the UK courts to tackle. Google could then risk unlimited fines (not just the ICO maximum of £500,000).

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