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Europe And Google Talk Privacy, Again!

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The Article 29 Working Party (WP29) is a group that essentially makes the privacy concerns of every European union member its concerns when with comes to data protection. Unfortunately, for countries concerned with Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) its a toothless organization that has no power to bring sanctions against the search giant. Instead, the WP29 simply provides Google with exhaustive lists of recommendations and policies that will put the company on the right side of European law.

Google will try

Given Google’s size WP29 really just concerns itself with the single search giant though the group maintains that it might apply its guidelines to the industry as a whole sometime in the future. But again its guidelines are not law just a means by which Google can comply with the law that many nations believe Google violates on a regular basis.

Think of the Article 29 Working Party as a stereotypical Irish beat cop of 1920s New York minus the billy club that it would love to use regularly. Google seems willing to share what’s going on in the neighborhood with the working party given its lack of enforcement ability.

“We’ve worked with the different data protection authorities across Europe to explain our privacy policy changes. We’re always open to their feedback and look forward to further discussing their suggestions in detail,” a Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) spokesman said in an email.

What do they want?

Because millions of people read privacy policy while resplendent in my sarcasm, data protection authorities want Google to make its policy both visible and accessible from its many landing pages and provide an address so users can individually complain to the company. Additionally, the WP29 wants the policy to be clear and unambiguous about data processing and usage. And then it wants Google to personalize the information for users who don’t understand the information they are asking Google to provide. Wow, anything else? Free babysitting?

“For example, for a user of Google Search, Gmail and Google Display Network it would be possible to present only information about those services in a dedicated tool demonstrating how the user’s data are combined to deliver these services,” it said. And in and amazingly contradictory fashion the group suggested that Google use cookies to make this personalization possible.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) was given no deadline for compliance from the powerless group.

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Brendan Byrne

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