EU regulators want Google to halt new privacy policy

Fri Feb 3, 2012 10:41am EST
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By Claire Davenport

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A group of European regulators has written to Google Inc calling on it to halt the introduction of its new privacy policy, saying it needs to investigate whether the proposals sufficiently protect users' data.

Google said in January it was simplifying its privacy regulations, consolidating 60 guidelines into a single policy that will function across all its services, including YouTube, Gmail and Google+, its social networking site.

Regulators are concerned that Google may share personal data across all of its platforms without giving users the chance to give their prior consent.

The Article 29 Working Party, an independent body that brings together data protection authorities from each of the EU's 27 countries and the EU's executive European Commission, said it needed to examine Google's plans more thoroughly before the search group's policy comes into effect on March 1.

"Given the wide range of services you offer, and the popularity of these services, changes in your privacy policy may affect many citizens in most or all of the EU member states," the group wrote to Google Chief Executive Larry Page on February 2.

The European commissioner in charge of data protection, Viviane Reding, welcomed the move, saying it was a necessary to establish that EU data rules were being firmly applied.

"The Commission therefore calls on Europe's data protection authorities to ensure that EU law is fully complied with in Google's new privacy policy," she said in a statement.

Lawmakers and civil liberties groups in the United States are also concerned by Google's plans to include photos and posts from users' Google+ accounts in search results.   Continued...