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'Concern' over Google privacy rules

The majority of Britons are concerned about their online privacy and back an investigation into internet giant Google's data policies, campaigners have said.

A survey by privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch found that 68% of respondents are concerned about online privacy with nearly a quarter "very concerned".

More than seven in 10 of respondents said European data watchdogs were right to investigate the company's privacy policy, which allows the search engine to pool user data from all its services ranging from YouTube to Gmail. And the majority - 66% - of the public said national regulators should be doing more to force Google to comply with existing European directives on privacy.

Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said: "The message from consumers is clear - regulators were right to investigate Google's new privacy policy and now they need to do more to force the company to comply with the law. Online privacy is an important issue for a significant number of people and not enough is being done to address these fears."

Launched in March last year, Google's new privacy policy merged around 60 product policies with users unable to opt-out. However, data protection authorities were concerned and European regulators launched an investigation.

Google was ultimately given four months to change its approach with 12 "practical recommendations" published by the group of regulators.

However, last week the French authority leading the investigation - CNIL - said "Google did not provide any precise and effective answers" and regulators will now meet on February 26 to discuss how to proceed.

Mr Pickles added: "People increasingly feel their interests and privacy are being ignored by large companies and advertisers motivated by profit. If regulators don't get a grip of the situation we risk people losing trust in the digital economy and feeling they are not in control of their personal information. The long term consequences of such a collapse in trust would be dire."

A Google spokesman said: "Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward."

The survey, undertaken by ComRes, interviewed 2,050 British adults online between February 15 and February 17.


From Belfast Telegraph