01 March 2012
Google has abandoned over 60 privacy policies used to cover its various products in favour of a single policy that it says is “shorter and easier to read.”
The single policy comes into effect on 1 March and means that a single policy applies to all Google’s various services including GMail, YouTube and photo-sharing website Picasa.
However, further specific privacy policies remain for the Chrome web browser, Google Books and Google Wallet services.
Where Google says that the single policy makes for a ‘simple and beautiful experience,’ privacy campaigners have called on the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the UK’s data watchdog to investigate the policy believing it may contravene European data protection laws.
Calls for delays to Google's new policy
The Article 29 Working Party, a watchdog group of data protection authorities from EU member countries, has called for a pause in the implementation of the new policy to ‘check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of citizens.’
Lack of understanding among Google users
“Much more needs to be done to inform consumers what these changes mean, and how they can take control of users' personal information. The impact of Google’s new policy cannot be understated, but the public are in the dark about what the changes actually mean,” said Big Brother Watch.
Which? policy advisor Rob Reid welcomes the idea of simplifying online privacy policies, but cautions that they must still offer all necessary protection to online users.
"The simplification of Google's privacy policies may help ensure that consumers are more aware of the privacy implications of using its products and services," Rob said. "However, it is essential that the new policy is fit for purpose given that it now covers such a vast range of services."