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European Data Protection Agencies Order Google to Improve Privacy Practices

The French Data Protection Commissioner, acting on behalf of the European Union, has ordered (Appendix) Google to endorse key privacy principles, comply with data protection laws, and give users greater control over their personal information. The decision follows an investigation triggered by the collapse of the Google privacy policy in March 2012, which allowed the company to combine user data across 60 Internet services to create detailed and secret profiles on Internet users. The Commissioner determined that the change violated European data protection laws because Google "does not collect unambiguous consent of the user," and listed 12 steps that Google should implement in order to ensure compliance with the law. Earlier this year, EPIC sued the Federal Trade Commission to force the FTC to enforce the terms of a settlement with Google that would have Google's changes in business practices. Google's consolidation also prompted objections from state attorneys general, members of Congress, IT managers in the government and private sectors, and consumer organizations in the United States and Europe. For more information, see EPIC: Google Buzz and EPIC: Enforcement of Google Consent Order.

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