The company announced a sweeping revision to dozens of overlapping privacy plans in January and set March 1st as the date on which the new, uniform policy would take effect. Privacy advocates have openly critiqued the policy revisions. Officials from Japan and the European Union this week issued statements that further question Google’s intentions.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications issued a memo (Japanese) late Wednesday asking that Google clarify its new rules, alert users to the changes taking effect and swiftly answer any questions users may have. The statement appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to notify Google that Japan is concerned the new rules may violate the nation’s privacy laws. Japanese officials insist the statement was “just a notification,” according to correspondence with IDG News.
The European Union, which previously asked Google to delay implementing its new changes have now deemed them an outright ‘in breach of EU law.” The EU’s justice commissioner Viviane Reding led the charge against Google on Wednesday, backing up her claim with an argument from a French data protection authority that worries the new policy “raises fear about Google’s actual practices.”
In a letter (.PDF) sent to Google’s CEO Larry Page, the National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties, based in Paris, conveyed “strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness” of the policy.
Still, Google went ahead and launched its new changes Thursday despite warnings from the EU earlier this week and throughout most of February, sending company spokespeople onto the airwaves to address questions about the changes.
“It is unfortunate that Google has gone ahead with the new policy before addressing the French data protection authority’s concerns, Viviane Reding said in a statement following the launch.
The policy reform condenses more the 60 of Google’s privacy documents down to one, stressing that while logged in to Google, your private data will be treated the same. Regardless of whether users are on Gmail, YouTube, Blogger or one of the company’s many other programs, they will be treated as one single entity.