Google has 18 months to comply with European privacy regulations

The relationship between Google and Italy hasn’t always been an easy one. Four years ago, three managers at Google’s Italian subsidiary were found guilty of violating the country’s privacy laws after a video was posted on Google Video depicting a disabled person being bullied. The verdict was later overturned, but the trial made waves across the world. More recently, at the end of 2013, Democratic Party MP Francesco Boccia proposed a law introducing a so-called ‘web tax’ which would oblige internet companies that offer services to Italian users to set up a taxable entity in the country. The proposal was also known by the name of the ‘Google tax’, and was later pulled back by the Democrats.

Google has been given 18 months by the Italian data regulator to change how it handles and stores user data. Users will now have to grant permission before the firm creates a profile on them, and Google has to honour requests to delete data within two months (although it will have an additional six months to remove the content from backups). Google will also have to explicitly inform users that the profiles it creates on them are for commercial purposes. In a statement, the data watchdog said Google’s disclosure to users remained inadequate, despite it having taken steps to follow local law. A Google spokesman said “We’ve engaged fully with the Italian DPA throughout this process to explain our privacy policy and how it allows us to create simpler, more effective services, and we’ll continue to do so. We’ll be reading their report closely to determine next steps.” It has also agreed to present a roadmap to the regulator by the end of September, showing how it will comply with the decision. The command follows a cross-European investigation that found that the Californian company was in violation of the EU’s privacy policy laws. Italy’s Data Protection Authority led the inquiry, which began after Google consolidated 60 of its privacy policies into one all-encompassing policy, covering services as varied as YouTube, Gmail and Google Search. Users were not given the ability to opt out of the consolidation.

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