Bloomberg News

Google Quizzed by France on Privacy Rules for Android, Cookies

March 19, 2012

Google Inc. (GOOG), the world’s largest Web-search provider, was questioned by France’s data protection authority to determine whether policies for mobile devices running its Android operating system and information collected using “cookies” violate European privacy rules.

The National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties, known by its French acronym as CNIL, asked Google to reply to the list of 69 questions on its privacy policy before April 5, according to a statement yesterday on the regulator’s website.

The questions “reflect the need for legal clarifications on your new privacy policy and in particular on the sharing of user data across Google services,” according to CNIL’s letter to Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page.

Google’s privacy policy is under review by France’s data- protection agency acting on behalf of other European regulators. The Mountain View, California-based company defied two requests by CNIL to suspend changes to the policy while it determined whether those changes comply with European privacy standards.

Google is “confident that our new simple, clear and transparent privacy policy respects all European data protection laws and principles,” the company said in an e-mailed statement acknowledging it had received letter dated March 16 and would respond “in due course.”

CNIL, which worked with other European agencies to devise the list, asked Google about which services would cause a cookie called “PREF” to be stored on the user’s equipment, and what information it would collect and why.

Safari Browser

The regulator didn’t cite Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Safari Internet browser in sections on cookies and browser settings, though it did ask when Google might “consider it legitimate to circumvent browser enabled third-party cookie blocking” and whether it recognized a user’s browser settings as a way to say what sort of tracking and privacy was expected.

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is examining whether Google effectively deceived consumers by planting cookies on Safari, bypassing Apple software’s privacy settings, said a person familiar with the matter last week.

Google said last week it “didn’t anticipate this would happen” with the cookies and said it has been removing the files since the issue was uncovered.

Google’s Android, used on smartphones and tablet devices made by companies like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., is also a focus of CNIL’s questions. The regulator asked if devices running the operating system leave personal information like contact lists, text messages and location data accessible to mobile applications.

CNIL asked Google when it would combine data, either from different user accounts on the same family computer or from “authenticated services” like its Gmail e-mail platform to services like Google Maps, which don’t require authentication, if the function is done on the same browser or computer.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Smith at hsmith26@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


American Apparel's Future
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW

(enter your email)
(enter up to 5 email addresses, separated by commas)

Max 250 characters

 
blog comments powered by Disqus