When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!

LE MONDE (France), DIE WELT, DIE ZEIT, FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG (Germany), FINANCIAL TIMES (U.K.)

Worldcrunch

The European Union’s privacy commission issued a sharp reprimand to Google, ordering the company to change its way of informing people how their data is being used, or face sanctions, the Financial Timesreported.

Le Monde reported that the decision was unanimous among the privacy officials from all 27 EU countries that make up the commission.

In a three-page letter to Google CEO Larry Page, the Commission on the Collection of Private Data wrote that Google did not inform its users about how much information was being collected. The commission determined that the company was combining the data “excessively” with no real oversight and keeping it for long periods, Le Mondereported.

Google’s March 1, 2012 rollout of new privacy conditions, which users were forced to agree to in order to access certain Google services, including email, sparked the months-long investigation.

According to German weekly Die Zeit, Google told users that it would be agglomerating all their information gathered from its many Internet services, including email, search, its social network Google Plus, and Google’s online Docs and Calendars.

Although Google says this data is kept anonymous, the enormous reach of the company, which touces almost every Internet user in some way, has raised intense concern among some Europeans.

Each European Union country has its own privacy office, and European privacy laws are stricter than those in the United States. The French National Committee on Computers and Freedom CNIL or Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés said Tuesday that Google’s cooperation with the EU commission had been “mediocre,” Le Monde reported.

The president of CNIL said that Google gave vague answers to specific questions, did not supply information about its “60” previous versions of its privacy policy, and used the conditional “we could” in the documents submitted instead of making firm commitments about its future behavior.

“Google did not demonstrate to us that it obeys the law on computers and privacy, nor that it would commit to respecting it,” she said, adding that the decision to reprimand Google for infringement of privacy was unanimous by all 27 EU national commissions.

European law requires that as little information as possible be collected about the user, and also that the user be able to control his or her own information. “The protection of the individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms overrides Google’s legitimate interests to collect such a large data base, and no contract justifies this large combination of data,” the commission wrote.

The investigation found that users are not asked for permission for their data to be stored, nor is there any way for them to opt out, Die Zeitreports. If Google does not comply with EU law within three to four months, the company will face sanctions. But the sanctions would have to be imposed by each country acting for itself, notes Die Zeit.

Google, whose motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” “does not understand the excitement,”Die Welt quipped in its headline.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Green

Fading Flavor: Production Of Saffron Declines Sharply

Saffron is well-known for its flavor and its expense. But in Kashmir, one of the flew places it grows, cultivation has fallen dramatically thanks for climate change, industry, and farming methods.

Photo of women harvesting saffron in Kashmir

Harvesting of Saffron in Kashmir

Mubashir Naik

In northern India along the bustling Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Pampore — known as the saffron town of Kashmir —people are busy picking up saffron flowers to fill their wicker baskets.

During the autumn season, this is a common sight in the Valley as saffron harvesting is celebrated like a festival in Kashmir. The crop is harvested once a year from October 21 to mid-November.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest

InterNations