Google announced the plans in January. Shortly after the announcement, Stanford Researcher Jonathan Mayer found that Google was circumventing privacy settings on the Safari web browser, which is used on the iPad and iPhone. Google also gave false advice on its website about the effect of the settings it was circumventing. Microsoft later said Google was circumventing privacy settings on its Internet Explorer browser.
“With this track record, nothing Google says can be taken at face value,” says Simpson.
After Google announced the changes in policy, European data protection authorities asked that the March 1 implementation be delayed. Several members of Congress expressed concern about the plans and the effort to circumvent privacy settings. Thirty-six state attorneys general objected.
On Monday the French data protection authority, CNIL, on behalf of the EU data protection authorities warned that the change appeared to violate the law. CNIL again asked for a delay.
“Moreover, rather than promoting transparency, the terms of the new policy and the fact that Google claims publicly that it will combine data across services raises fears about Google’s actual practices,” CNIL says. “Our preliminary investigation shows that it is extremely difficult to know exactly which data is combined between which services for which purposes, even for trained privacy professionals.”
Google claimed the new policies were about improving the user experience.
“It’s really about spying on you and building those digital dossiers,” says Simpson. “Remember you’re not Google’s customer; you’re Google’s product.”