Sunday, February 05, 2012

Is Google's New Privacy Policy Effective March 1, 2012 a Violation of Data Protection Rules in the European Union as well as the HIPAA in the USA ?

What this new Google privacy policy may mean in practice is that ALL your searches will become part of a single portfolio of information about YOU and be connected to all your Google accounts and services.  Hmmm.

Now THAT could be a very serious problem of "Big Brother" really watching us.


For the USA, has the story at Google’s New Privacy Policy May Violate HIPAA, Congresswoman Says

For Europe, Ian Paul at PCWorld has the story in Will Europe Upend Google's New Privacy Plan?

As Paul writes:
"Google's new privacy policy brings together more than 60 privacy policies from various Google products into one document. The new policy enables Google to consolidate your personal information strewn about various Google services so that Google can treat you as a single user across all of its products. Google currently has more than 70 individual privacy policies covering all of its services."
We use Google a lot as our main search engine, as one of our chief email providers and also via our Blogger blogs, so that we see the eminent sense for Google of consolidating all serendipity things that one person does via Google into one consolidated account. Indeed, when we accessed Blogger today, we were alerted by a notice to the upcoming change in privacy policy. However, we see searches, email and blogging as three separate services.

Is simple notification of the new privacy policy sufficient to enable it?
Can one legally justify this kind of private data consolidation?
Indeed, is it enough to permit users to opt out of logging in to escape it?

What about the interests of the users? Should they not be able to decide on an application basis what information they want to share and with whom or not? We have no doubt, for example, that Facebook will be facing an uphill legal battle in the future because of its pervasive consolidation of user information. It is rather remarkable that Facebook has gotten as far as it has.

It is a classic clash of the interests of online providers of services vs. the individual privacy interests of its users, interests that the law must protect.

There is a limit beyond which privacy invasion is so pervasive that the government will have to step in and so, "this far, and no further". Clearly, we are reaching that limit.

Frankly, we think Google is going to have to backtrack on this decision in order to avoid massive user discontent.