German watchdog barks at Google

AnubiA German data protection watchdog has snarled at the search engine Google for the way it creates data profiles from its various services.

The data protection commissioner for the German city state of Hamburg has ordered Google to take the necessary technical and organizational measures to guarantee that their users can decide on their own if and to what extend their data is used for profiling.

Commissioner Johannes Caspar growled that Google had refused to grant users more control over how it aggregates data across its services including Gmail, Android and the web search engine.

The Hamburg watchdog said it represented Germany as part of a European task force evaluating Google’s privacy policy.

Processing data that reveals financial wealth, sexual orientation and relationship status, among other aspects of private life, is unlawful in Germany unless users give their explicit consent, it added.

Google is not saying anything about the comments, although the Financial Times earlier quoted a company spokesman as saying Google was studying the order to determine its next steps.

European data privacy regulators last week handed Google a list of guidelines to help it bring the way it collects and stores user data in line with EU law.

Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, have opened investigations into Google after it consolidated its 60 privacy policies into one and started combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps.