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Germany orders Google to let users decide over data

Google is in lukewarm water in Europe after a German data protection watchdog told the web firm it must ask for user permission before creating automatic user profiles by using data from various services.

Read more: Google ordered to rewrite privacy policy by European watchdogs

Johannes Casper, the influential data protection commissioner for Hamburg, said he was speaking on behalf of the entire nation in a statement that puts considerable pressure on Google to reform its widely castigated European privacy policy.

"Google is ordered to take the necessary technical and organisational measures to guarantee that their users can decide on their own if and to what extend their data is used for profiling," Johannes Caspar, the data protection commissioner for Hamburg, said in a statement on Tuesday according to Reuters.

Caspar added that the search engine company has, in the past, refused to allow users more control of how data is aggregated from services such as Gmail, Android and Google Search.

In Germany it is not lawful to process data that shows financial wealth, sexual preference and relationship status, or other aspects of private life unless the user in question gives explicit consent.

The Financial Times reports that a spokesperson from Google told them it is studying the ruling to try and work out what it’s next steps will be.

Google controversially changed its European privacy policy in 2012 when all 60 privacy policies were merged into one unified document that didn’t allow users to opt out and in the process combined data from all its services including YouTube, Gmail and Google+.

France and the UK both warned at the time that the changes were unlawful and raised questions about compliance with the respective data protection policies in each country.

Italy went a step further after its data protection regulator gave Google 18 months from July 2014 to reform the way it handles data and a failure to change would mean a fine of around €1 million [£778,195].

Read more: European regulators investigate Google’s data protection policies

Now that Germany has added its weight there’s an increasing likelihood that Google will have to make some kind of change to its privacy policy.

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