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APAC privacy regulators question Google about policy changes

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Technology Working Group (TWG) of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities, of which New Zealand is a member, has written to Google to raise concerns about Google's upcoming changes to its privacy policy.

The TWG complimented Google on its desire to simplify and clarify its privacy policies, and to better inform consumers. However, it raised concerns about the privacy impacts of the new policy. A key concern is that it will allow Google to combine information provided by signed-in users to one service (such as Gmail, You Tube or Google's search engine) with information from other services.

The TWG also raised concerns that important details might have been lost in the process of simplifying the previous policies.

In its letter, the group:

� suggests that users should be able to control the way in which their information is aggregated and shared online, especially members of minorities or at-risk groups

� asks how the changes will effect existing users, who may hold several accounts for Google products, including Google Apps accounts

� asks whether users can access privacy tools, such as Dashboard, easily

� points out that specific timeframes for deleting information following a user request have not been carried over to the new policy

� asks Google to clarify its policies about dealing with sensitive personal information

� asks Google to explain the extent to which Android users will be affected by the changes.

Google has replied to the TWG's letter. The TWG is currently reviewing Google's response, to see whether it answers the questions the TWG had posed, and to see whether further questions are necessary.

See the TWG's letter at:

Google's letter in response is at:

See the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner's statement on the changes:

The privacy policy changes came into effect on 1 March. Google's 60 privacy polices have been consolidated into one main new policy, which will cover the majority of Google's products.

Only Google users who are signed in to a Google account will be affected. Consumers can also control their privacy settings, through important tools such as Google Dashboard, and their existing preferences (for example for receiving advertising) have not been changed.

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