Google agrees to Italian privacy watchdog inspections on home turf

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By Larry Banks

According to Reuters, Italy’s data privacy watchdog says that Google has agreed to inspections at its US headquarters in California – the first time a European Union regulator is to make checks on a company in the US.

Google privacy challenge

The announcement on Friday is the latest privacy challenge for Google in the EU, and highlights just how the union is trying to make sure its citizens’ data are treated under EU laws, even when that data is held abroad.

Google has also been under investigation by various EU data protection agencies, since it merged more than 70 separate privacy policies into one in 2012, which combines data on individuals collected across all of its services, such as YouTube, Gmail and Google+. Under that scheme, there was no way in which users could opt out.

Last week, the Italian data protection authorities said that Google had agreed to adopt all the protections required and also submit to regular checks, and that Google had until January next year to implement the changes in how it stores user data.

“For the first time in Europe, it (Google) will be the subject of regular checks to monitor progress … of the actions to bring its platform into line with domestic legislation,” the Italian DPA said.

Google Privacy Policy

A Google spokeswoman responded: “As we said in July last year, we have fully engaged with (the Italian regulator) … throughout this process and will continue to do so”, however did not confirm any details of the agreement.

The authority apparently expects quarterly updates on progress and said it would inspect Google’s headquarters to check whether it is complying with rules on data held on Italian citizens.

Google will now have to make it clear to its users how their data will be used, and won’t be allowed to use data to profile users without their consent. Google must also improve how it stores data and guarantee deletion within a specified timeframe if a user requests so.

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