Check Google Apps privacy, firms urged

Analysts have urged businesses using Google's on-demand office applications to ask for clarification of the supplier's privacy policy regarding the data held on its systems.

Analysts have urged businesses using Google's on-demand office applications to ask for clarification of the supplier's privacy policy regarding the data held on its systems.

"Google's privacy policy is vague and IT directors using its applications should ask it to clarify the extent to which it shares and handles information," said Graham Titterington, principal analyst at Ovum.

Titterington said Google sets out the conditions under which it is obliged to share information with governments, but it does not say what the limits of this sharing is.

The warnings follow calls from data protection group Article 29 for Google to explain why it holds the data it does and for the time it does.

Google said its privacy policy was straightforward and it would respond to the Article 29 group in the coming weeks.

Jay Heiser, research VP at Gartner, said "Google are not yet in a position where they are able to offer a commercial customer even levels of service such as ISO 27001 certification - a security management standard. Google's privacy policy seems extremely ambiguous today," said Heiser.

A Google spokesman said it takes internal reviews of its data collection storage and processing practices and restrict access to personal information to Google employees, contractors and agents who need to develop its services. "These individuals are bound by confidentiality obligations and may be subject criminal prosecution if they fail to meet these obligations."

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