Google's answer to EU as succinct as its privacy policy

Google doesn't have a lot of patience for European regulators who asked the search giant to "pause" the roll out of its new privacy policy, set to launch March 1, so they can explore "possible consequences."
Written by John Fontana, Contributor

Much like it's forthcoming slimmed down privacy policy, Google was just as succinct in brushing off European privacy regulators Monday.

The search giant refused to cave into requests to delay its revamped privacy policy, slated to go live on March 1, in the face of EU regulators asking for more review time.

Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel for Google, explained in a three-page letter to Jacob Kohnstamm, president of the Dutch Data Protection Authority and chairman of the Article 29 Working Party, why Google merged it privacy policies into one document that covers all of the company's online properties.

Google's policy changes have invited pointed questions for the U.S. government, European Union and advocacy groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research group, and Safe.gov.

Fleischer told  Kohnstamm, "As you will know, we had extensively pre-briefed data protection authorities across the EU prior to the launch of our notification to users on 24 January 2012. At no stage did any EU regulator suggest that any sort of pause would be appropriate."

He said 350 million Google account users had already been notified of the impending changes.

The Article 29 Working Party, launched in 1996, is made up of a representatives from the data protection authority of each EU member state, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European Commission. It is a watchdog group concerned with the protection of individuals in regard to processing their personal data and the free movement of that data.

Kohnstamm on Friday had sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page asking for a "pause" in the roll out of Google's new policies so the EU states could determine "possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of [our] citizens."

He told Page the French data protection authority, known as the CNIL, would take the lead on the matter.

But the French agency didn't get much to work with.

Google's Fleischer ended his letter with the only offer he would make toward honoring the EU request.

"We hope this overview of our updated privacy policy will help to address your concerns. 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.

The letter closed with "Yours sincerely" and Fleischer's signature.

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