Made in the EU with GDPR inside!

Qwant“Made in the EU with GDPR inside”, will this be the new label to look for when seeking a quality online service with reliable privacy guarantees?

On 27 April 2016 the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the GDPR) was passed and will come into effect on May 25th 2018. Despite various messages from national data protection authorities (e.g. the ICO) and the EU directorate general in charge of internet, DG Connect urging companies not to wait until the last minute to make sure their services are compliant, many are still not sure what exactly a GDPR compliant Terms of Service or Privacy policy might look like.

I am not a lawyer, but from the looks of it the search engine Qwant seems to provide a nice example of the way to do it.

Qwant is search engine, based in France but proudly European, that was launched in 2013 and which doesn’t track its users and doesn’t filter web content. For people who want to take advantage of some additional feature beyond the search functionality, there is an option to create an account, but in keeping with the GDPR, only the minimum of information necessary for access to all the services is collected, putting “data minimisation” into practice.

The Terms of Service page provides a relatively short document (1470 words) in fairly clear language sorted under clear headings covering Intellectual Property, Personal Data Protection, the non-use of cookies or tracking tools, the law under which the service is provided and the service they offer.

The Privacy Policy (linked to within the Terms of Service immediately under the heading Personal Data Protection) lays out the privacy philosophy of the service and the provides drop-down tabs for the following topics:

  • How do we collect data from our users?
  • Why do we collect data?
  • What are the procedures and formalities conducted by Qwant to ensure the protection of your personal data?
  • What happens to your personal data?
  • For how long do we keep the data?
  • What measures does Qwant take to ensure the security and confidentiality of your personal data?
  • What are your rights? How do you exercise them?
  • Additional information and recommendations

Each drop-down is a short bit of text, the longest, explaining “What are your rights? How do you exercise them?” is 229 words with clear subheadings of Right of access, Right of opposition, Right of correction or deletion, Right to delisting (right to be forgotten).

There is however one piece of information that is still missing which would really help to put people’s minds at ease about using the service – and that is a brief description of the business model. How does Qwant generate income?

Personally I was especially taken by a rather ingenious solution they offer in the service settings for the problem of saving a choice of setting for people who don’t want to log in to an account, without the use of cookies – put the setting choice in the URL string and bookmark it!

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