Google offers firms EU data protection compliance tool

More security compliance for privacy

Google has announced plans to offer a tool that will help businesses operating in Europe comply with EU data protection laws.

The search giant will be offering its Google Apps for enterprise customers model contract clauses, which it said will help them meet the adequacy and security requirements of the European Commission's Data Protection Directive.

The privacy legislation, passed in 1995, restricts the movement of data from the EU to non-EU countries that do not meet the EU 'adequacy' standard for privacy protection.

To meet the 'adequacy' requirement in the past, US companies could take part in the US-EU Safe Harbor Framework, which was developed 12 years ago by the US Department of Commerce and the EC. Google is one of around 2,500 US companies offering services in Europe signed up to the framework.

The EC then approved model contract clauses as a means of compliance with the adequacy standard in 2010.

Marc Crandall, senior manager of global compliance at Google Enterprise, said: "By incorporating certain provisions into a contract, personal data can flow from those subject to the directive to providers outside the EU or the European Economic Area.

"By adopting model contract clauses, we're offering customers an additional option for compliance with the directive."

Belinda Doshi, partner at law firm Nabarro, said that businesses in the EU will welcome Google's new tool.

"Although the US-EU Safe Harbor helps facilitate transfers of personal data between the US and the EU, its usefulness has been limited as it doesn't cover all such transfers.

"However, this decision shouldn't just be seen in terms of legal compliance. It is a clear signal, after recent criticism of Google's privacy practices, that Google wishes to engage with European data protection compliance and to be seen doing so."

Google recently announced that its Google Apps for Business has earned the international security standard ISO 27001 certification.

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