Google To Revise Privacy Policy Documentation After ICO Investigation

Google will revise its privacy policy to make it easier to read, understand and navigate in a new agreement with UK regulators.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said that Google had been “too vague” in explaining how it used personal data.

In 2012 Google combined around 70 separate privacy policies for different services into one mega document, but European regulators were not convinced the change was positive and launched an inquiry.

Now, in the UK at least, it looks like the long process has been concluded - and Google has avoided any form of fine of the kind that were handed-down in Italy and Spain.

The ICO said that while Google's privacy policy changes did not cause “substation damage and distress to consumers”, it would be required to restructure the document so that more users could apply it to the real world.

The changes are set to take effect by 30 June 2015. They include commitments to make the document easier to navigate, to clearly define technical terms, to include case studies to explain more complex clauses and to include a new section specifically on the use of cookies. The ICO also said that Google will be required to go out of its way to draw attention of privacy controls and policies to “passive users”.

The full list of changes and agreements can be read in full here.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said:

"This investigation has identified some important learning points not only for Google, but also for all organisations operating online, particularly when they seek to combine and use data across services. It is vital that there is clear and effective information available to enable users to understand the implications of their data being combined. The detailed agreement Google has signed setting out its commitments will ensure that.”