Europe targets Google over privacy

Hayley Tsukayama / The Washington Post /

Published Jul 6, 2013 at 05:00AM

Google is facing increased pressure over its privacy policies, as British regulators ordered the tech giant Friday to give users more insight into how the information it collects on them is used.

European regulators have become more critical of Google’s business practices in the past year, including French and Spanish authorities who say Google’s policies do not comply with their data protection rules. Privacy advocates say that questions about how U.S. firms protect European data will only become more pointed in the wake of revelations about a National Security Agency surveillance program, PRISM, that targets foreign data on the servers of U.S. companies.

The surveillance program, “combined with the ongoing investigation of Google’s business practices, has created almost a tsunami of privacy enforcement,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which has been less aggressive than other European regulators, has taken multiple steps against Google since the disclosure of PRISM, including demanding last month that the firm delete any remaining data inadvertently collected for its Google Street View mapping service. On Friday, it followed that order with a second, broader, mandate that Google amend its privacy policy by Sept. 20.