Google Quizzed by France on Privacy Rules for Android, Cookies

Google Inc. (GOOG), the world’s largest
Web-search provider, was questioned by France’s data protection
authority to determine whether policies for mobile devices
running its Android operating system and information collected
using “cookies” violate European privacy rules.

The National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties,
known by its French acronym as CNIL, asked Google to reply to
the list of 69 questions on its privacy policy before April 5,
according to a statement today on the regulator’s website.

The questions “reflect the need for legal clarifications
on your new privacy policy and in particular on the sharing of
user data across Google services,” according to CNIL’s letter
to Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page.

Google’s privacy policy is under review by France’s data-
protection agency acting on behalf of other European regulators.
The Mountain View, California-based company defied two requests
by CNIL to suspend changes to the policy while it determined
whether those changes comply with European privacy standards.

Google is “confident that our new simple, clear and
transparent privacy policy respects all European data protection
laws and principles,” the company said in an e-mailed statement
acknowledging it had received letter dated March 16 and would
respond “in due course.”

CNIL, which worked with other European agencies to devise
the list, asked Google about which services would cause a cookie
called “PREF” to be stored on the user’s equipment, and what
information it would collect and why.

Safari Browser

The regulator didn’t cite Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Safari Internet
browser in sections on cookies and browser settings, though it
did ask when Google might “consider it legitimate to circumvent
browser enabled third-party cookie blocking” and whether it
recognized a user’s browser settings as a way to say what sort
of tracking and privacy was expected.

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is examining
whether Google effectively deceived consumers by planting
cookies on Safari, bypassing Apple software’s privacy settings,
said a person familiar with the matter last week.

Google said last week it “didn’t anticipate this would
happen” with the cookies and said it has been removing the
files since the issue was uncovered.

Google’s Android, used on smartphones and tablet devices
made by companies like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., is also a
focus of CNIL’s questions. The regulator asked if devices
running the operating system leave personal information like
contact lists, text messages and location data accessible to
mobile applications.

CNIL asked Google when it would combine data, either from
different user accounts on the same family computer or from
“authenticated services” like its Gmail e-mail platform to
services like Google Maps, which don’t require authentication,
if the function is done on the same browser or computer.

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Heather Smith at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Anthony Aarons at

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