EU Investigation Goes Beyond Google

    June 22, 2007

When the European Union confronted Google over its data retention policies, some people – including Google’s own global privacy counsel – wondered why Yahoo, Microsoft, and a number of other companies were left alone.  Now it appears that the EU is going to take a look at them, after all.

I’d like to direct a hat tip towards Barry Schwartz for this one, but the original source (as Schwartz notes) is Paul Meller of the IDG News Service.  “European data protection officials are expanding their examination of the impact search engines have on privacy, after initially targeting Google Inc. last month,” Meller stated.

And though information is scarce, this isn’t hearsay or a rumor – Meller managed to get an interview with European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx, who told him, “A panel of European data protection officials called the Article 29 Working Group decided Wednesday to request information from Google’s rivals amid concerns that search engines are holding onto information about the people who use them for too long.”

Google’s leaders might get a laugh out of this (turnabout being fair play and all that), but they’d probably much rather the EU had just dropped the whole matter; a good deal of negative publicity followed the EU’s original interactions with Google.

Yahoo and Microsoft on the other hand . . . well, it’s not likely that they’re finding this the least bit humorous.