Google ordered to change its privacy policy in the UK

Google may face a penalty of up to £500,000 if it does not change its policy

The U.K. Information Commissioners Office has ordered Google to change the privacy policy it introduced in March 2012 to make it more informative for users.

If Google does not change its policy to comply with the U.K. Data Protection Act by Sept. 20, it could face formal enforcement action, the ICO said in a news release on Thursday. ICO can issue monetary penalties of up to £500,000 (US$752,000) for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act.

ICO has written to Google warning that its privacy policy raises serious questions about its compliance with U.K. data regulation.

"In particular, we believe that the updated policy does not provide sufficient information to enable U.K. users of Google's services to understand how their data will be used across all of the company's products," the ICO said.

ICO's action echoes actions taken by other data protection authorities across the E.U. Last month, authorities in France and Spain ordered Google to change its policy, and on Thursday a German regional data protection authority also announced formal action against the company.

Google maintains that its privacy policy respects European law, and allows Google to create simpler, more effective services, a Google spokesman said in an emailed statement. "We have engaged fully with the authorities involved throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward," he added.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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