German court chides Google over its vague privacy policy and terms

Source: GigaOm
Author: David Meyer
Coverage Type: reporting
Berlin, Germany

Google’s privacy policy is too vague, a Berlin regional court ruled, upholding a complaint made by the Federation of German Consumer Associations (VZBV) in July 2012. The judgment is not yet final, though, and Google says it will appeal.

The VZBV had pointed out that that Google’s privacy policy was less than clear about what users could expect to happen with their data -- Google “may” capture location data and “may” mix-and-match data from its various services, for example. Consumers are expected to give their consent to all this, but they can’t be certain what it is they’re consenting to. The consumer rights group was also irked that Google reserves the right to change its terms and provisions unilaterally, without further consent from the user. The court agreed, ruling that a whopping 25 clauses in Google’s terms of use and privacy policy were unlawful. A Google spokesman said that the company would appeal, arguing that its terms and privacy policy are indeed lawful. If Google loses its appeal and doesn’t change the clauses, it could face fines of up to €250,000 ($338,500) per violation, which in this case means per clause.



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