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France data protection regulator requests information on new Google privacy policy

The Commission Nationales de l'Informatque (CNIL) [official website], France's data protection regulator, has given Google Inc. [corporate website] three weeks to answer questions [press release] about its new privacy policy [text] as part of a Europe-wide investigation on behalf of all European data protection regulators. Specifically, in a letter [text, PDF] dated March 16, the CNIL asked Google CEO Larry Page [Google backgrounder] to answer a questionnaire entailing what Google will do with user data it collects, how long it will store the data and whether the data will be linked to the user's identity. Additional issues within the 69 questions include whether Google will track people using mapping or smartphone searches, and whether the company will collect phone-specific information, such as address book contacts. The CNIL also asked Google to provide a legal basis for its new policy provisions in 21 of the questions.

Google's new privacy policy took affect on March 1 despite the claim by EU Justice Commissioner Vice-President Viviane Reding [official website] that the policy violates European law [JURIST report]. The policy aspects receiving criticism include data collection sharing among Google services like YouTube, G-mail, Google Maps and Blogger, as well as the personalizing of advertisements based on an individual's search history. EU data authorities are chiefly concerned about this sharing of personal information and its compliance under European data protection legislation [EC materials]. In addition to its international criticism, Google's new privacy policy has also been scrutinized by some in the US. In February, the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit filed by consumer privacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) [advocacy website] asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] to block Google's then-proposed changes. Also in February, the National Association of Attorneys [official website] sent a letter of concern to Google, and three US Representatives asked the FTC to investigate [JURIST reports] the new privacy policy. These concerns were raised despite the company issuing a letter in January [JURIST report] in response to similar consumer privacy concerns raised by other members of Congress. Like the CNIL, US Representatives sent Google CEO Larry Page a questionnaire [JURIST report] entailing the effects of the new privacy policy.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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