EU Questions Google on Privacy


Further proof that Google can expect more serious oversight on its acquisitions and marketing practices, the European Union has launched an investigation into whether the Google search engine violates European privacy rules.


The primary concern is Google’s practice of keeping information on user searches for up to two years after the performed search. The EU believes that this is too long a time period to retain records because it would likely create a very full picture of an individual’s preferences in most every facet of life. The two-year retention policy is an improvement, however, considering that Google used to keep the data indefinitiely.


Google has defended itself by noting that it anonymizes the records after 18 months. Google also argues that longer-term retention helps to protect against hacking attempts and maintains the integrity of its “Adwords” and related advertisiing services.


Bottom Line: Google can expect to be under the regulation microscope in the foreseeable future. Its explosive growth and ongoing consolidation plans keep it in the lawmakers’ limelight. While U.S. regulators are one thing, Google should be especially wary that the stricter EU has become interested in Google’s activities. While the seach engine’s business success is unquestionable, it may be time to remove its foot from the accelerator for a short while.

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