Google Applauded for Privacy Policy?

Dennis Faas's picture

The European Union's head justice official has applauded Google on its decision to reduce the amount of time it keeps the personal data of Internet users.

"I think it is indeed a good step," said EU justice and home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini at a news conference in Luxembourg. His comment was in response to Google's decision to only keep the data for 18 months, a modest improvement from Google's original plan to keep the data for 18 to 24 months. (Source:

"I have appreciated the commitment of Google not only to meet our expectations in terms of protection of privacy or better on cutting the time and reducing the time of retention of personal data," Frattini said. (Source:

Frattini also expressed his contentment with Google's decision to redesign cookies. Cookies, which are text files inserted onto a computer, leave a data trail for marketers and statisticians. (Source:

The EU's data advisory body had said in May that Google seemed to be failing to respect the EU's privacy rules. They asked for clarification from Google before its next meeting in mid-June. (Source:

Google' global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said that the company's data retention period complies with EU privacy rules. Fleischer also said that Google is doing more than other websites to keep privacy a priority, particularly noting that some websites keep user records indefinitely. However, Fleisher said that the EU's data protections laws were difficult to determine. (Source:

"There is tremendous confusion in legal circles across Europe on these issues," he said. "Both individuals and companies would benefit from greater clarity from authorities responsible for the (EU) Data Retention Directive to answer these very fundamental questions." (Source:

But despite Fleischer's confidence in Google's privacy practices, not all agree. London-based Privacy International rated Google worst on privacy among the Internet's top sites. The company said that it was especially disturbed by Google's ability to match data gathered by its search engine with data from email, instant messaging and maps.

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