The storage of user data continues to be a concern in the technology world. Turn back ten years and it’d be a strange thing to trust your name, location, search history and other data to a company. Now it’s commonplace, with data sharing considered a standard of the times.
This is especially true of firms like Facebook and Google, who store your data with the supposed aim of improving their service. While that may be true, it also raises concerns about consumer privacy – how do you know that this data is being secured properly? Are you happy for these businesses to hold your data for as long as they wish?
Now a Danish consumer watchdog has taken issue with Google. The search giant, owned by Alphabet Inc, has been reported to the Danish Data Protection Agency over concerns that they’re breaking privacy laws by not putting a limit on how long personal data is stored on Google’s servers. It’s not known what prompted the watchdog to investigate Google’s data storage policies.
The watchdog’s report states that the consumer council Taenk would like the Data Protection Agency to assess whether Google’s storage method, which allows them to keep user data for an indefinite period, compiles with the consumer’s basic right to privacy. The report also states that they have been made aware than Google has 9-10 years of information about users how have a Google account.
This isn’t the first time that Google have been under fire for their data storage practices. Last year, Italy’s privacy regulator succeeded in their request for Google to make it clear how user data was used and guarantee that it was deleted within a set time frame.
Google has also been scrutinised by the European Commission multiple times over the way it handles search results on Android smartphones. The removal of the Safe Harbour rule, which allowed data sharing between the EU and the US, meant that companies like Google have had to proceed with caution over how they store their data within the European Union.
The Safe Harbour rule was replaced with the Privacy Shield, which allowed the data to be transferred if they could prove that it was protected. However, there have since been issues with the framework that have left many privacy watchdogs unhappy.
The US, which is Google’s headquarters, are perhaps less strict when it comes to protecting their citizen’s data privacy. The country is known for forcing companies to hand over their data to assist with legal investigations.
While companies operating out of the US may be abiding by their country’s data laws, operating worldwide means you also must be accountable elsewhere too. The EU are strict when it comes to data protection and the laws surrounding it and it’s likely that this investigation by the Danish watchdog will not be ruled in Google’s favour.
As a consumer, there’s not a whole lot you can do beyond not using these services that store your data indefinitely. But when that involves Google, the biggest search engine on the planet, that can be a difficult thing to do.
Google's User Data Storage Reported by Danish Watchdog
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