EU welcomes Google move to cut data retention time

An Web surfer views the Google home page at a cafe in London, August 13, 2004. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe’s top justice official welcomed on Thursday a move by Google Inc to halve to nine months the time it stores personal data gathered from its users’ Web surfing habits.

The Internet search giant has come under pressure from European data protection officials to do more to protect the privacy of users visiting its sites.

European Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot said the change, announced this week, was “a good step in the right direction” but noted that retention for up to six months was the recommended European Union target.

Barrot also said in a statement he attached “special significance” to a new Google policy of informing users about its privacy policies in an easily understood way and he welcomed Google’s communication with European data protection regulators.

Writing by William Schomberg