Google settles with UK watchdog to protect consumer privacy
The issue stems from the consolidation of around 70 privacy policies into a single policy in March 2012. In a statement, the ICO said this resulted in vague guidelines that didn't make it clear what data was being gathered, or how it would be used.
The updated terms have already led Google to pay fines in France and Spain of over $1 million, though as Reuters notes in its report on this settlement, they amounted to little more than pocket change for a global technology company that made $55.52 billion in 2013.
Steve Eckersley, the head of enforcement at the ICO, said in a statement that this was a preemptive attempt to protect consumers before any issues could arise:
In his statement, Eckersley also said this agreement is meant to lay the foundation for similar settlements with other technology companies facing the same problems:
This investigation has identified some important learning points not only for Google, but also for all organisations operating online, particularly when they seek to combine and use data across services. It is vital that there is clear and effective information available to enable users to understand the implications of their data being combined. The detailed agreement Google has signed setting out its commitments will ensure that.[illustration by Brad Jonas]