- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Google Inc. faces investigation and possible prosecution by six European national data privacy agencies after the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet search giant declined to rewrite its privacy policy, as European Union officials recommended last year.

A four-month deadline given the company by a European Commission privacy working group expired at the end of March, the BBC reported.

Data privacy watchdogs in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom are weighing action against Google, the BBC said.

In a statement, the company said its privacy policy “respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services” for users.

The news came a day after Alma Whitten, Google’s director of privacy, announced she would step down later this year, but a person who has discussed the issue with Google executives told The Times the news from Europe was not related to Ms. Whitten’s departure.

“It doesn’t really tie together … it’s not directly correlated,” this person said on condition of anonymity.

In a statement the company said Ms. Whitten was retiring after 10 years, during which she had “done so much to improve our products and protect our users.”

French data watchdog CNIL, which has led the multinational response of European privacy and data regulators to Google’s new privacy policy, said in a statement that the company had been warned about the potential actions by the six agencies in a meeting with them on March 19.

“No change” was seen following this meeting, said the CNIL statement, according to the BBC.

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