The Italian Almanac

Google
you are being watched

You Are Being Watched

Italy's privacy watchdog opened a preliminary investigation into U.S. search giant Google's privacy protection policies. In particular, the Italian investigation is focusing on the pertinence, necessity and quantity of data the search giant collects from its users as well as on the methods it uses to inform them about the data it collects and the process by which it seeks their consent for collecting data about them. The Italian initiative, the privacy watchdog said in a statement, is being taken in unison with privacy watchdogs in other European countries including France, Germany, the U.K., Spain and the Netherlands.

Between March and October 2012, the group which brings together the privacy watchdogs of all 27 EU-member states had analyzed Google's privacy policies to make sure they adhered to those required by the EU. Google's new privacy policy allows the company to, among other things, cross-reference in an anonymous manner users' use of services like Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps.

Following the analysis of Google's privacy practices, the EU had asked the Mountain View, California-based company to adopt, within four months, a series of modifications necessary to bring the firm's practices into line with EU rules. Once the period had expired, some Google representatives had asked to meet the EU task force charged with reviewing the practices. Following the meeting, and despite Google's apparent availability to adopt requested changes, the company didn't carry out any of the requested modifications. Subsequently, privacy watchdogs in each of the six countries will undertake separate, parallel and closely coordinated preliminary investigations into the search giant's practices.