The public has urged lawmakers to do more to protect their privacy online, it has been reported.

Recent research has revealed that nearly 68 per cent of people are concerned about their privacy, while 66 per cent of the British public say that national regulators should be doing more to force Google to comply with existing European directives on privacy and the protection of personal data.

The research was unveiled by privacy campaign group, Big Brother Watch after European data protection regulators announced that they will be taking action against Google over its revised privacy policy.

Since March of last year, Google has been gathering personal user data from a number of different sources in order to sell that information to third-party companies, including advertisers.

The policy replaced approximately 60 individual product policies with one policy, with users unable to opt-out.

Regulators, working together as the Article 29 group, launched an investigation. On October 16th of last year, the group said that it’s investigation confirmed their concerns about the combination of data across services.

They reported that: “The policy allows Google to combine almost any data from any services for any purposes” and said that it posed a high-risk to public data protection.

Google was given four months to revise its policy, with 12 “practical recommendations” published.

After failing to comply with the regulators requests, Google came under fire from French privacy regulator CNIL, which was leading the investigation.

But the search giant has remained defiant in the face of criticism and denied that it is breaking any laws.

Figures by Big Brother Watch on the other hand showed that public distrust of big companies, like Google is at an all-time high.

More than 71 per cent of the British public say that privacy and data regulators were right to investigate Google’s privacy policy. A further 46 per cent of people said that consumers are being harmed by big companies gathering large amounts of their personal data for internal and external use, while just 18 per cent thought it enhanced consumer experience.

But in fact, the implications of Google’s new policy may have more sinister applications in some cases. A previous report hit the headlines last year after a rape victim who pursued a case against her attacker in court, revealed that the defense lawyers of her attacker requested her Google search history to learn what information she had looked up before and after her assault.

Jennifer Bennett, who was repeatedly beaten and choked on the date during the sexual assault decided to waive her right to anonymity after she defied a court order seeking the electronic records.

In addition to Bennett’s search engine queries, defense barristers sought to search through her Facebook account, her email, and the journals she kept to help her through the healing process.

Despite her humiliating legal battles however, Bennett’s attacker, anesthesiologist and community college instructor Thomas Bray, was convicted for the attack. Last month, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said that the that large corporations were increasingly undermining people’s privacy rights was on the increase.

He said: “The message from consumers is clear – regulators were right to investigate Google’s new privacy policy and now they need to do more to force the company to comply with the law.

“People increasingly feel their interests and privacy are being ignored by large companies and advertisers motivated by profit. If regulators don’t get a grip of the situation we risk people losing trust in the digital economy and feeling they are not in control of their personal information. The long term consequences of such a collapse in trust would be dire.”

Regulators have since met on February 16th to discuss how they will proceed with their investigation into Google.

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