Google insists that very little has changed, that they're not collecting more data about us and the new policy "simply makes it clear" that the company uses data to refine and improve our Google experience. "This is something we have already been doing for a long time," said Betsy Masiello, Policy Manager at Google. "We're making things simpler and we’re trying to be upfront about it. Period."
However, despite these protests from Google, European Union regulators have asked the search giant to put the planned changes, originally scheduled to take effect on March 1, on hold. Reuters reports that The Article 29 Working Party, which is an independent body made up of a representative from the data protection authority of each EU Member State, has written to Google and asked for time to investigate whether the proposals sufficiently protect users' personal data.
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 not yet confirmed that it will put its planned changes to its policies on hold. However, the company did say in a statement to PCWorld that it would be happy to discuss the changes with any data protection authority that has concerns between now and March 1, when the changes are set to take effect.
"We briefed most of the members of the working party in the weeks leading up to our announcement," Google told PCWorld. "None of them expressed substantial concerns at the time -- and we've now started the largest communication to users in our history. The changes do not come into place until March 1, and we're happy to talk any [data protection authority] that has questions through our changes between now and then."
Meanwhile, Google competitor Microsoft is taking full advantage of the situation. The company this week ran full-page advertisements in newspapers, highlighting the change and inviting users to try its rival products.