Italy clamps down on Google over data use

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Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/AFP
12:47 CEST+02:00
Italy has told tech giant Google to change the way it treats and stores users’ private data within 18 months as part of a Europe-wide bid to crackdown on privacy violations.

In a statement on Monday, Italy’s data protection watchdog (Garante per la protezione dei date personal), said Google “must not use personal data unless it has prior consent from the user and must explicitly state if the data is being used for commercial purposes”.

Although the regulator acknowledged that Google, which operates the largest search engine in the world, has taken strides to abide by local laws, it is not yet fully compliant, especially when it comes to getting prior consent from users before taking their personal data, which is often used by advertising firms to boost revenue.

The watchdog also said that requests from users, such as those with a Google account, to remove their date must be met within two months of the request being received.

Regulators in several European states, including the UK, France and Spain, last year began a joint investigation into Google’s personal data use after the company consolidated 60 privacy policies into one, a move which combined users’ data gathered across services including YouTube, Gmail and Google+.

Earlier this year, Italy’s regulator also slapped the company with a €1 million fine for failing to correctly brand its Street View cars, which traversed the country in 2010 taking photographs that were published online.

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READ MORE HERE: Italy fines Google €1m for privacy breach

The regulator also said it was waiting on clarifications before applying the so-called "right to be forgotten" ruling after it was introduced by the European Court of Justice in May. The ruling stipulates that seach engines must respond to peoples' request to have past or personal information about them removed.

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