Data Protection Regulators Confront Google

Major announcement out of Paris this morning with Figaro and the Wall Street Journal reporting on an Open Letter (une lettre collective) to Google from La Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés. Alex Türk, the Président of CNIL addresses his letter directly to Monsieur Eric Schmidt, Président du conseil d’administration et chef de la direction, Google Inc.

The Italian authorities, the Garante per la protezione dei dati personali signed on as well as the Irish Data Commissioner and other privacy and data protection authorities.

Türk’s letter starts: “We are concerned to see that too often, the right to privacy of citizens of the world is left out at the launch of new technological applications. We were disturbed by your recent launch of the application of the Buzz social network, which was done in defiance of the norms and basic laws to protect privacy. In addition, it was not the first time that your company failed to take into account the respect for privacy in introducing new services “.

He urges Google to adopt privacy by design: “We therefore urge you, like all organizations that hold personal information, to integrate the fundamental principles of protection of privacy into the design of new online services.”

This means at least the following:

* Collect and process personal information only strictly necessary to achieve the objectives of the product or service;
* Provide clear and unambiguous information on the intended use of personal information, to allow users to give consent;
* Create default settings that protect the privacy of users;
* Include adequate mechanisms for obtaining consent from users;
* Ensure that the control parameters of privacy are conspicuous and easy to use;
* Ensure adequate protection of all personal data;
* Providing users with simple procedures for the removal of their accounts and acquiesce to these requests in a timely manner.

No response from Mr. Schmidt or Google: “Un porte-parole de Google n’a pas souhaité faire de commentaire sur le contenu de ce courriel”.

Google’s own privacy commitment is here.

The BBC is crediting Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.

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