Google Inc. was ordered by a German regulator to limit how it combines user data that could be used to find out customers’ personal preferences, including marital status or sexual orientation.
“With that, one can compile detailed movement patterns, detect the social and financial status, and friendship, sexual orientation and the relationship status” of a person, the regulator said.
While Google’s terms exclude the use of highly sensitive personal data for advertising purposes, combining such information from the individual services can yield “conclusive and almost complete personality portraits,” according to the Hamburg authority. Such a “massive” joining of data has no basis in national or European law, according to Caspar’s office.
Google said that it is reviewing the order.
“We cooperated during the whole process with the Hamburg data regulator,” said Klaas Flechsig, a spokesman for Google. “We showed how our privacy policies provide for easier and better services for users.”
In talks with the Hamburg authority, Google agreed to “numerous” improvements, Caspar said. The company didn’t pledge the required changes on profiling, leading him to issue a formal order, he said.