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EU asks Google to delay rollout of new privacy policy

Data protection concerns lead to request for "pause" by search giant

The EU has sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, requesting that the search giant delay the rollout of its forthcoming privacy policy changes.

Currently, Google has over 60 different privacy policies which cover its plethora of services. From March 1, 2012 it wants to amalgamate them into a single policy - ostensibly to improve services and simplify understanding, albeit with an acknowledged side benefit of increasing revenue from targeted ads.

The changes have been widely broadcast by Google across many of its services, with pop-ups, emails and other notifications.

However, the EU has now asked the company to consider changing the date of the policy's implementation, fearing that changes to such widely used and comprehensive services could have ramifications for data protection.

In a letter to Page, Jacob Kohnstamm of the Article 29 Working Party called for a "pause" to allow the French data protection body to investigate the changes.

"On behalf of the Article 29 Working Party I would like to inform you that we are aware of the upcoming change in your privacy policy," writes Kohnstamm.

"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.

"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.

"In light of the above, 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."

Google has so far resisted the call, claiming that "delaying the policy would cause significant confusion," for users.

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