Having insisted repeatedly over the past week that its commitment to user privacy remains unchanged, Google on Friday declined to alter its schedule.
In a reply to the Article 29 Working Party, Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer explains that EU data protection officials were briefed prior to Google's policy change announcement on January 24 and that none of the officials suggested a delay would appropriate.
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Google last week said it would be replacing some 60 privacy policies and terms of service documents with a single set of rules governing its handling of personal data and usage of its products. Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product, and engineering, explained that Google wants to make its policies easier to understand and to update its policies to reflect its intention to combine user data across products as a way to improve user personalization.
Already under fire for integrating content from its Google+ social network into its search results and for alleged abuse of its search dominance, the company's policy shift prompted a backlash. U.S. lawmakers expressed concern over the inability of Google users to opt-out of Google-wide data profiles, and Microsoft--which has been vocal in urging regulators to restrain Google--took the opportunity to claim that Google's planned changes will make it more difficult for people to control their information.
The damage control continued on Thursday, with Google executives answering lawmakers' questions at a closed-door hearing before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade. It looks like Google may yet have further work to do: According to political news site The Hill, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee, was dissatisfied with Google's response.
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