Google Faces Heat for Privacy Policies
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Google is under fire from the European Union and Microsoft for its privacy practices. The conflict between such large players is fueling debate about privacy on the Internet.
On Monday, French regulators announced the European Union will take "repressive action" against Google, charging the company has failed to adequately explain how it shares user data. The French data privacy agency, CNIL, can impose fines of up to 300,000 euros.
But all databasing that information might go further than many people want it to, says Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University.
“Arguably (the database) violates some of the contextual expectations of the users,” Goldman says. “They've signed up for service A. They may have independently made a choice to sign up for Service B. They may not want A and B to talk to each other."
Meanwhile, Microsoft is waging a media campaign against Google, with a website delicately named Scroogled! It criticizes the search giant for digging through Gmail messages for advertising keywords.
"Both the EU and Microsoft are Google haters, but possibly for different reasons," Goldman says.
Microsoft has seen Google and others erode its monopoly position in the operating-system and productivity software market, and "it's fighting tooth and nail to try and find a way to get it back," Goldman says. "The European privacy community, they're concerned that the Internet services are not being sufficiently protective of consumer privacy."
European regulators have asked Google to stop combining user data when it's not legally justified, and to delete personal data periodically.