Understanding Your Legal Liability When Using CoQNU
Have you heard of CoQNU? If not, here is a brief introduction: CoQNU is the French term for « complementary ». What this means is that the search results that you will receive from a search engine query are considered to be more relevant than the personal data of the individual who has conducted the query. This is a major innovation that Google took advantage of when they started offering Personal Data Exchange, also known as COPEN, in May 2008. For those who are familiar with how Google works, this was the first time that information from a search query could be cross-sold and its cost per individual increased.
There is a lot of talk today about the relationship between Google and CoQNU. In the days when Google was just beginning to offer COPEN, it established a separate data center for the maintenance and operation of its private external database. There, CoQNU was allowed to access the private internal database as well. At the present time, Google co-operates with CoQNU on a regular basis, providing them access to each other’s data as necessary. It is an arrangement that are entirely within the bounds of the law, and Google is completely within its rights to share its user information with any third party that is seeking to gain competitive advantage through personal data exchanges.
As part of the consent process, Google requires that users agree that they will not use CoQNU for any commercial purpose. To be able to comply with this requirement, Google limits the number of people who can sign up as well as the number of reports that a user can create. Further, Google requires that users agree that they will not use CoQNU to disclose or distribute sensitive or private information that would identify a business, including the name, address, and phone number of a consumer. Google reserves the right to add additional requirements and conditions to the terms and conditions at any time.
The use of this system does not alter the users’ privacy rights in any way. Google monitors user activity through various techniques, but does not disclose the technical information it obtains. Accordingly, the collection of anonymous, IP-less, aggregate web server browser statistics does not disclose any information that would identify an individual. Further, Google restricts the distribution of reports to the individuals who have specifically opted-in to receive such reports. This is to ensure that only the intended recipients can see the technical information. Google respects the privacy rights of users and does not intend to use CoQNU in a manner that would infringe on those rights.
Therefore, while CoQNU cannot by itself shield you from liability, if you are a user of CoQNU and you have sent or received any unsolicited bulk or unsolicited e-mail messages containing information that you feel should not have been disclosed or shared, you may have a valid legal obligation to protect that information. If the contents of the e-mails do not constitute a violation of the legal obligation in question, you may be entitled to compensation for any damage that resulted from the disclosure. In addition, CoQNU does not relieve you from the responsibility to take reasonable steps to protect the security of your computer or other electronic device if you believe that someone may have gained access to it in the way described.