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+Francis Davey (a barrister with some experience of privacy law) has made the following arguments in defence of Google.

* Google+ is not a communications service, so Section 18 can not be applied.
* There is an option to leave the service, in order to be removed from the directory.

Here is my rebuttal.

First, it has not been demonstrated that Google+ is not a communications service. It has many aspects of being a communications service under the act in question. In particular, Google+ is tied in to the GChat service, and you can not have a Google+ account without a GChat account tied to it to make Hangouts and Huddles work.

It is important to make the distinction here that Google+ is not the service being questioned. The service being questioned is Google Profiles, which is a directory service for Google Accounts across all of Google's services. Google Profiles recently changed their policy to mandate public profiles, and to then mandate the publication of a person's 'common name'. That it is only a requirement for Google+ users, at the moment, this is still a subset of users who are subscribers to Google's communication services.

Second, is the argument that there is) an opt out, _to leave the service. This is technically untrue. Google Profile appears to work on 'Hotel California' rules. Once you create a Google Profile, it can not be deleted. There used to be a function to delete your profile, but that has disappeared after the rollout of Google+! Edit: This was apparently restored at some point recently, in account overview. But none of the help documents have been altered to reflect the change.


That aside, this questions the very legislative intent of Section 18. If the argument is true, then the section is unenforceable as anyone maintaining any kind of directory of subscribers can use this defence; claiming that if they want to be removed from the phone-book they can simply have their phone disconnected. Since this entirely vexes the legitimate original intent of the law, the defence is nullified.

I invite a response from Mr Davey.
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Jay Blanc's profile photoRobin Green's profile photoChristoph Puppe's profile photoYahanan “Yuki” Xie's profile photo
16 comments
Noze P.
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there is a delete profile option, in account overview
 
Wouldn't it be great if Google could document it when they change the location and use of a fundamental function?
Noze P.
 
Honestly i dont recall if it was under another section :)
Noze P.
 
oh i just go directly to google+ settings, not going through the whole help thingy myself
 
That's where I went looking, because profiles.google.com was redirecting, and that's where I'd gone to delete my Buzz profile back in the previous "Google don't get Social" mess.
 
The german law is more strict there, blogs and listings are covered as well so no pain to discuss finer points of what a communicatiosn service is.

But then, we, the users do communicate by means of shares, posts, +1, huddles ... so who is to question if it is a communications service?
 
+Christoph Puppe That certainly lends credence to my argument that Google+ is a communication service, since the law is a reflection of a european wide directive.
 
it sure is. the new policy, as stated last night would be in accordance ... I'd think ... IANAL ...
 
Christophe - do you have a link to the relevant German law?
 
not only that, it is tied in to Google Contacts too (via the GChat/Gtalk service), and Contacts is tied in to Gmail
 
+Christoph Puppe I've obviously missed this announcement, can you link to it, and was it an official announcement with changed to the policy explicitly stated. Otherwise, we've already been down the road of someone at google saying they're not doing something, then finding out they are actually doing it.
 
I've sent in a complaint, so we'll see what they send. I bet we get identikit responses.
 
+Christoph Puppe This looks a lot like what they were saying earlier, and still just as disconnected from the evidence from people who had their accounts suspended and had to hand over government photo ID to get back on.
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