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Europe wants Google to pause privacy policy changes

Cool your boots, Mr Page
Fri Feb 03 2012, 14:21

A COLLECTION of European privacy regulators have written to Google's CEO Larry Page and asked him to reconsider pushing ahead with upcoming privacy policy changes.

The changes have already caused controversy and given Microsoft a chance to point its finger at the firm, but Google has fought back and said that the changes will not detract from users' privacy, but will improve it.

The European Commission (EC) Article 29 Working Party disagrees though, and its letter (PDF), though short, does not mince words.

"Dear Mr. Page, Given the wide range of services you offer, and popularity of these services, changes in your privacy policy may affect many citizens in most or all of the EU member states," says the letter.

"We wish to check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of these citizens in a coordinated procedure. We have therefore asked the French data protection authority, the CNIL, to take the lead. The CNIL has kindly accepted this task and will be your point of contact for the data protection authorities in the EU."

It adds that since the French data privacy dogs are intent on looking at the changes it might be wise for Google to pause them. That way, it says, there are unlikely to be misunderstandings about their impact.

"We call for a pause in the interests of ensuring that there can be no misunderstanding about Google's commitments to information rights of their users and EU citizens, until we have completed our analysis," it says.

"We briefed most of the members of the working party in the weeks leading up to our announcement," said a Google spokesperson in response. "None of them expressed substantial concerns at the time, but of course we're happy to speak with any data protection authority that has questions."

Google did not say that it has any plans to hold off on streamlining its privacy policies in order to wait for permission from the EC. µ


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