Google Inc. (GOOG), the world’s largest Web-search provider, was questioned by France’s data protection authority to determine whether policies for mobile devices running its Android operating system and information collected using “cookies” violate European privacy rules.
CNIL, which worked with other European agencies to devise the list, asked Google about which services would cause a cookie called “PREF” to be stored on the user’s equipment, and what information it would collect and why.
The regulator didn’t cite Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Safari Internet browser in sections on cookies and browser settings, though it did ask when Google might “consider it legitimate to circumvent browser enabled third-party cookie blocking” and whether it recognized a user’s browser settings as a way to say what sort of tracking and privacy was expected.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is examining whether Google effectively deceived consumers by planting cookies on Safari, bypassing Apple software’s privacy settings, said a person familiar with the matter last week.
Google said last week it “didn’t anticipate this would happen” with the cookies and said it has been removing the files since the issue was uncovered.
Google’s Android, used on smartphones and tablet devices made by companies like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., is also a focus of CNIL’s questions. The regulator asked if devices running the operating system leave personal information like contact lists, text messages and location data accessible to mobile applications.
CNIL asked Google when it would combine data, either from different user accounts on the same family computer or from “authenticated services” like its Gmail e-mail platform to services like Google Maps, which don’t require authentication, if the function is done on the same browser or computer.
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