Europe opens up to the cloud — by adding more red tape

Stringent data protection rules have proven a big obstacle to cloud adoption in Europe, but now the continent’s privacy watchdogs want to make things more straightforward. How? They’re recommending external inspections on cloud providers in the U.S. and elsewhere.

How Europe is dealing with the cookie crisis

UK web publishers and marketers may be grumbling about the E-Privacy Directive coming into force, but they can count themselves lucky that they’re not dealing with stricter interpretations of the law that are happening elsewhere across Europe.

No joke: Now Germany wants to kill Bing Maps too

Microsoft’s Bing StreetSide service was offering a welcome replacement for Google’s out-of-date Street View imagery in Germany, but now privacy complaints have seen it taken offline. When will somebody realize these complaints have gone too far?

Students force Facebook to cough up more user data

Facebook is giving users the chance to download more of the information that it holds about them than ever before, but the small group of Austrian law students who forced the change say the social network is still holding back.

Facebook hasn’t fixed Friend Finder, says German group

Facebook has been slapped down again by the German authorities over privacy problems with its Friend Finder feature — but while reports suggest the social network has fixed the problem, the consumer group that launched the complaint says it is still not happy.

Today in Connected Consumer

Today is the day Google’s new privacy policy, in which personal data on users will be shared across all the company’s services, goes into effect. And regulators around the world are not amused. Authorities in four European countries, led by French data=protection agency CNIL, have concluded the new policy violates EU law. Japanese authorities also warned the company to tread carefully as it implements the policy lest it fall afoul of laws in that country. Google could also soon face trouble closer to home. Microsoft on Wednesday announced the hiring of former senior FTC attorney Randall Long as its new director of regulatory affairs in its Washington, DC, office. As assistant director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition Long had led several of the agency’s anti-trust investigations into Google. The FTC, of course, also regulates online privacy.

What the web is saying about Google’s privacy policy

With the launch of Google’s new privacy policy — which gives it the ability to share personal data across all of its services — European regulators are questioning its legality. Here’s what the web is saying about the spat.

Today in Cloud

Sean Gallagher has a piece on Ars Technica this morning, which suggests that Microsoft lost a deal with European defence contractor BAE Systems… because of fears about PATRIOT Act-endorsed snooping. Microsoft, Gallagher writes, “could not guarantee that [BAE’s] data wouldn’t leave Europe.” Oops. Back in September, I looked at a recent European enthusiasm for getting tough about data. BAE’s decision is one more instance of this, and it’s really not clear yet how widespread the repercussions might be. Derrick Harris put the U.S. perspective last month, suggesting that U.S. companies want “free trade for data.” If U.S. laws like the PATRIOT Act continue to apply, companies, governments and citizens beyond the United States’ borders may not be so enthusiastic. “Free Trade” on one country’s terms is not free at all, regardless of the spin.

Europe scrutinizes Facebook’s data collection — again?

Reports this weekend suggest that Facebook is about to face a new crackdown from European authorities over the way it collects data on users — but closer inspection suggests that it is just the latest episode in an ongoing struggle between EU officials and technology companies.