Category: CNIL

Ready for Cookie Sweep Day?

Cookie Sweep Day is coming!

The French data protection authority CNIL will conduct a “cookie sweep” this coming September 15 to verify compliance with its recommendations on cookies and tracers used to collect and store personal user information on websites. These audits will be both on-site and remote inspections, meaning that as a website owner, your premises could be subject to a visit by the authorities for non-compliance.

Continued below…

Oreo

The CNIL will feed the data crumbs it gathers into a program of website audits it will conduct in October.

The cookie sweep is not limited to France – all other EU national data protection authorities will be conducting their own sweeps as well across the Member States, to inspect and monitor cookie compliance with the ePrivacy Directive.

Should you be concerned?

To be clear, under the regulations, only certain cookies require a user’s prior consent –  in general, cookies set by third party advertising networks. In a word, if you’re monetizing your site with third party ads, you must ask users for their consent to those cookies (if you’re not already asking for prior consent for these, you should really do it, er, now).

If you’re not already aware of how it works, a user can consent by clicking a banner explaining that the site uses cookies for tracking/advertising purposes or more simply, if the user continues through deeper links within the site and the banner remains persistent.

Users must be able to withdraw consent at any time, and cookies and consents must be reset at a minimum every 13 months. The CNIL holds sites and third party advertising networks jointly liable for compliance.

What’s the risk?

If you’re running a business through ads or tracking via your site, the financial risk is moderate, depending on your size. This past January the CNIL fined Google €150,000 for having cookies set while the banner was loading instead of after consent was given. Clever folks, Google. Anyway, the risk is there.

Nota bene…

Functional cookies and web analytics cookies do not require prior consent but users must have clear and user-friendly information regarding these cookies, including information on how to opt-out.

Another important note is that sites cannot deny users access if they choose to block advertising cookies and cannot make acceptance of advertising cookies a condition of using the service.  Where a business model depends on making content or services freely available in exchange for targeted advertising via cookies, the regulations are…highly disruptive.

The CNIL has also put up an app (“CookieViz”) for users to verify cookies on their Mac, Windows or Linux device.

 

 

 

69 Questions: EU quizes the G on its new privacy policy.

France’s data privacy authority CNIL (acting under EU mandate) sent Google the following questionnaire in order to clarify a number of concerns on the policy’s implementation, Google’s due diligence vis-a-vis its users and compliance of the policy with EU regulations.

The EU’s Article 29 Working Party (grouping Member State data protection authorities) stated that it further needs to clarify the consequences of the policy for users; specifically different levels of users, such as whether or not they have a Google Account, are non-authenticated, or simply passive users of Google’s services through Google APIs via other websites and/or applications (advertising, analytics, etc.).

Many of the questions seem to point in the direction of Competition Law concerns. It’s hard to imagine that the EU would be posing the same questions about Yahoo!’s privacy policy (which to my eyes, looks compliant).

The CNIL asked Google to provide written responses by April 5. Under EU law, responses are confidential unless Google consents to their release.

 

What to make of the EU reaction to Google’s new privacy policy?

Yesterday’s letter from the French National Commission on Information Technology and Freedoms (CNIL) points out some very specific problems in Google’s widely publicized new privacy policy, which comes into effect 1 March.

While the new policy is exemplary in its clear language, the issues the CNIL enumerates are not so arcane as to concern only specialists in data privacy law.

In sum, the CNIL wants Google’s privacy policy to explain 1) which Google services will collect and/or process personal data, 2) the specific personal data which will be collected and/or processed by each service and 3) how Google will inform the individual of her/his rights regarding access, correction, etc. for the personal data held by each service.

While all this sounds like formalities, complying with EU data privacy law is all about formalities. Google should know this better than anyone today, especially considering the level of expertise they have in data privacy matters.

As it is, Google has (for simplicity’s sake, one would surmise) used a negative definition of what it will not do with an individual’s personal data. From a philosophical point of view, this is a bit like the difference between Civil and Common Law conceptions of liberty. For Civilists, a right doesn’t exist unless it is enumerated. Civilists like things written down.

I think that we’ll likely see more PR pushback from Google in the next few weeks until their global data privacy counsel can talk his colleagues and clients into conceding that their new policy could use a few links to deeper explanations to be compliant with EU law. Google wants to be a good European, after all.

The Opinion 10/2004 on More Harmonised Information Provisions is basic but useful guidance on how to draft a compliant privacy policy statement. Well worth looking at.