By Gabriele Steinhauser Associated Press
Google publicized its new privacy rules — which regulate how the Web giant uses the enormous amounts of personal data its collects through its search engine, email and other services — with much fanfare last week.
Since then, it has launched a huge publicity campaign informing its users around the globe of the new policy, which is set to come into force on March 1.
But that launch date may now be under threat.
In a letter to Google Chief Executive Larry Page, Jacob Kohnstamm, the chairman of the group of 27 national privacy regulators in the EU, said the French data protection agency has launched an investigation into the new rules and how they will affect Google users in the EU.
“We call for a pause (in the rollout of the new rules) 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,” Kohnstamm wrote in the letter, which was sent Thursday and published on Friday.
Google’s search engine has a market share of more than 90 percent in the EU, with rival services like Microsoft’s Bing gaining little traction. The EU’s competition authorities are already examining whether Google uses this dominance to stop other search engines from entering the market.
Google said in a statement that it had briefed data protection agencies before making its new policy announcement and that none of them had had substantial concerns at the time.
“Delaying the policy would cause significant confusion,” it said in the e-mailed note.
A spokeswoman for Kohnstamm, who is also the head of the Dutch data protection agency, did not immediately answer questions on how long the investigation is expected to take or whether there were specific concerns over the new rules that triggered the probe.