Google puts off privacy changes in Workspace to May | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Search behemoth Google has put off until May changes to the privacy settings in Google Workspace, having earlier indicated that it would take effect on 30 March (29 March in the US), the American website Ars Technica reports.

The changes involve the removal of the Web & App Activity controls from the admin control panel and splitting it into separate settings to that no admin could control company-wide settings any more. Additionally, settings in place before the change would no longer be respected.

Gartner blogger Bart Willemsen pointed out that under the changes, every individual user of Workspace would have to turn off Search History in order to avoid the data being slurped up.

“Search History will now [after the change] live as a seemingly new but factually split/separated thing,” he wrote.

“As a result, Google has the guts to assume opt-in, default to automatically run Search History for every single user of a paid Workspace account (yes, even if previously as part of the Web&App Activity, you turned it off), and basically track and save all user activity.

“Since the admin doesn’t control this for their employees across the company anymore, EVERY INDIVIDUAL USER MUST MANUALLY TURN IT OFF.” [emphasis by Willemsen].

Willemsen cited the conditions that needed to be satisfied for meeting the definition of consent in the GDPR and said that Google was making it very difficult to meet these standards.

From an earlier post, he cited this: “The characteristics of consent are quite specific. For one, it should be freely given, indicating that there can be no coercion or pressure. This brings a complication in, for example, employee relations, where an employee might be afraid to lose his job when not consenting to a specific processing activity.”

He added: “Consent” in the GDPR requires the circumstances to include several conditions:

“By a clear affirmative act.” Silence or implied consent and pre-checked boxes, then, are a thing of the past. The organisation must ask outright for consent.

“Specific.” When the processing has multiple purposes, consent should be given for all of them. Obtaining separate consent is advised where the processing activities are not inherently related. Buying a pair of sunglasses in a Web shop, for example, does not automatically lead to receipt of the daily newsletter from that moment on. The burden of proof — that consent was indeed obtained in a correct and explicit manner — lies with the data controller.

“(As an) informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s agreement to the processing of personal data.” For consent to be informed, the identity of the controller and the processing purposes should be provided. This requires use of plain language when providing the information the consent is based on. Likewise, member states have additional requirements for the protection of children (minors), as their consent may not be deemed valid.“

Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo has a very detailed piece about the proposed changes and it is well worth the read.


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