Google declines to pause on privacy changes

Google declines to pause on privacy changes
Covering tech trends across a number of key sectors, including telecoms, apps, marketing and IT, Matt is Editor in Chief of Tech Portfolio. Contact him via twitter @MattHenkes

Google has come under pressure from the European Union to halt changes to its new privacy policy while a group investigates whether it complies with rules on the protection of personal data.

The search giant’s controversial new privacy policy consolidates the 60 guidelines which previously governed a number of disparate Google services such as Gmail, YouTube and Google+, which the company is now making efforts to tie together more seamlessly.

In a letter to Google CEO Larry Page last week, the EU’s Article 29 working group asked that the firm halt the changes while the CNIL, the French data protection authority, investigated the potential ramifications of the change.

“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,” it said. “We wish to check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of these citizens in a coordinated procedure.”

However, it looks unlikely that Google will heed the call. In a detailed reply, Peter Fleischer, head of Google’s global privacy council, explained the changes and said that the firm had extensively briefed EU data protection authorities prior to announcing the changes at the end of January. “At no stage did any EU regulator suggest that any sort of pause would be appropriate,” he wrote.

“Since we finished these extensive briefings, we have notified over 250 million Google account holders, as well as providing highly visible notices to all our non-authenticated users.

“We hope this overview of our updated privacy policy will help to address your concerns,” he concluded. “We are happy to discuss this further with the CNIL should they want to approach us for a meeting, or to answer any written questions the Working Party may have.”

Translation: No chance.

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