Consumer advocacy groups have raised major concerns about the policy, not least that it gives users no choice but to stop using Google services if they want to avoid being monitored. EU bodies further claim that it fails to provide users information on what data is collected, how it will be used and how long the company will keep the data.
The policy also fails to differentiate between various types of data collected, meaning that everything from a search term to personal information like a credit card number can be used for any purpose outlined in the policy.
Google’s response? The changes were made to improve the user experience across all of their products, and to give it an "integrated" view of its users. But the company does not have a great track record on protecting privacy. Most recently it agreed to pay a $22.5m fine for tracking internet users using the Apple Safari browser.
There's a bigger picture behind this latest row: one in which governments and corporations across the world are trying to grab and keep more private information about citizens, and increasingly trying to assert greater powers to monitor their activities online.
The EU agencies have given Google just months to comply with their demands, and to provide more transparency about their policies. If it fails to do so, the agencies have threatened litigation. Watch this space – and, in the meantime, take a look at this list of ways to secure your own communications.
Sources: Al Jazeera, Yahoo, AFP, Avaaz