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Google privacy chief: Proposed EU privacy law 'dead'

Peter Fleischer, Google's top global privacy counsel, says a "much-flawed" proposed EU privacy law is "dead," while praising whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Google's chief privacy counsel Peter Fleischer praised whistleblower Edward Snowden, seen here during his Christmas statement to England, while condemning a proposed European privacy law with steep fines as "dead."
Channel 4/CNN/YouTube

A contentious European Union privacy law that would've drastically changed data protection laws for a generation is "dead," according to Google's chief privacy counsel.

Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote on his personal blog, "Europe's much-ballyhooed, and much-flawed, proposal to rewrite its privacy laws for the next twenty years [has] collapsed."

The bill would give regulators the power to fine companies in violation of the law up to 100 million euros, around $136 million, for failing to properly secure the personal data of EU citizens. In October, the EU agreed with a British request to delay a 2014 deadline for the law.

EU representatives did not agree with Fleischer's more pessimistic take on the bill.

German Green Party politician Jan Philipp Albrecht, a proponent of the law who has been guiding it through the European Parliament and blamed Google for spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" lobbying against it, told Blooomberg that the blog post was "another try of Fleischer to kill the data-protection regulation by calling it dead."

Fleischer, who praised whistleblower Edward Snowden in the same post for "[opening] the world's eyes to the almost unimaginable scale and scope of mass government surveillance," and expressed doubt that governments would change their spying tactics in 2014, said he was "hopeful" that a revised EU law would allow legislators there to write "a better, more modern, and more balanced" law.

"Whatever comes next will be the most important privacy legislation in the world, setting the global standards," he said.

On Tuesday, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said in a speech that Greece, the current holder of the EU presidency that rotates countries every six months, was planning on pursuing debate on the bill.

The law is unrelated to a ruling yesterday by the French privacy regulatory commission CNIL that fined and subjected Google to punitive measures because of flaws in its unified privacy policy.

Google declined to comment for this story.