EU asks Google to put upcoming privacy changes on hold

By Sooraj Shah
03 Feb 2012 View Comments
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European Union (EU) data protection officials have asked Google to put its updated privacy policy on hold until they check whether there is any impact on EU users' personal data.

Last week, Google revealed plans to consolidate more than 60 privacy policies into one main document, allowing it to unify customer data across most of its products. The changes were set to take effect from 1 March and users were to be notified via email.

Further reading

The internet giant said users would benefit from its updated privacy policy.

"If you're signed into Google, we can do things like suggest search queries – or tailor your search results – based on the interests you've expressed in Google+, Gmail and YouTube," reads the Google policy website.

The Article 29 Working Party, an independent body that is made up of a representative from the data protection authority of each EU member state, has written to Google CEO Larry Page to question the new approach.

In the letter, Article 29 chairman Jacob Kohnstamm writes that the proposed changes may affect many citizens in most or all of the EU member states.

The body wants "a pause" so that it can complete an analysis to check if there is any impact on EU users. It said that the French data protection authority CNIL will lead the analysis.

This isn't the first time that Google has had to respond to questions over its new privacy policy.

Betsy Masiello, Google's policy manager last week posted a blog entitled ‘Setting the record straight about our privacy policy changes' in which she said that users still have control and that the new policy was to make things less complex.

The new policy has been praised by some, such as European Commissioner Vivian Reding, who said that Google had been "transparent" and had used "easily understandable language" in its policy statement.

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