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Google struggles to manage surveillance policies

Google's ability to track user data helps make its search algorithms more user specific, but it is also raising concerns about surveillance.

No Internet user is the same. While one may be more interested in the latest viral videos, another person may be interested about news in a specific industry. This means that these two individuals are looking for very different search results. In order to make its searches more specific to the user, Google has worked to track the search habits of various users to make the results page more specific to their needs.

Though this is certainly helpful in the realm of improving online searches, it can have a negative effect on user privacy. In fact, this has become a growing concern for country's around the world, especially in light of the Edward Snowden leaks.

Google France posts violation
When one arrives on most Google home pages, the layout is relatively simple, with nothing more than a search bar, two search buttons and the Google logo. However, in France, this page may look a bit different to a visiting user.

The Verge reported that in 2012, changes to Google's privacy policy raised questions about data protection that the company failed to address in the eyes of the French government. This led to a fine that was the equivalent of about $204,000, which was the legal maximum for the country.

On top of this, the news source noted that the company recently lost a legal proceeding that will force the company to notify users of this fine for 48 hours. Other country's in Europe have been pursuing Google for its privacy infringements, but France has been the most active.

Publishing surveillance requests
In the U.S., Google has been working to improve transparency especially as information continues to leak about the National Security Agency's PRISM program. The Guardian reported that every six months, Google, along with other major companies like Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo turned their users' information over to the government. The companies were forced to do this, but hope that the laws that required them to are made more transparent. 

"We still believe more transparency is needed so everyone can better understand how surveillance laws work and decide whether or not they serve the public interest," said Richard Salgado, legal director for law enforcement and information security at Google, according to the news source,

Going forward, transparency and user security will continue to be a pressing issue for Google as the concerns grow.

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