MILAN, July 21 (Reuters) - Italy’s data protection regulator has given Google 18 months to change the way it treats and stores user data, bringing to an end an investigation that is part of a European drive to reform the internet giant’s privacy practices.
Regulators in several European nations including Italy began a joint inquiry last year after Google consolidated its 60 privacy policies into one, combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and social network Google+. It gave users no means to opt out.
In a statement on Monday, the Italian watchdog said Google’s disclosure to users on how their data was being treated remained inadequate, despite the company having taken steps to abide by local law. It gave the group 18 months to fully comply.
The Rome-based regulator said Google would not be allowed to use the data to profile users without their prior consent and would have to tell them explicitly that the profiling was being done for commercial purposes.
A spokesman for Google said the company had always cooperated with the regulator and would continue to do so, adding it would carefully review the regulator’s decision before taking any further steps.
Regulators in France and Spain have already fined Google for breaking local laws on data protection, underscoring growing concerns across Europe about the volume of personal data that is held in foreign jurisdictions.
In Britain, the ICO regulator gave Google until September 20 last year to make changes to bring the policy into line with local law. On Monday a spokesman did not return a request for comment asking for an update on the case.
In a separate regulatory development, Google is taking initial steps to meet a European ruling that citizens can have objectionable links removed from Internet search results, a ruling that pleased privacy campaigners but raised fears that the right can be abused to hide negative information. (Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Leila Abboud; Editing by Sophie Walker)