An independent European Union panel, which advises the European Commission and EU governments on data protection issues, has warned U.S. based Google Inc. that it may be violating European Union privacy laws by storing and retaining user information for up to two years to serve commercial interests.

Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, said the company was doing a lot to protect personal data gathered from users on its search engine.
"We believe it's an important part of our commitment to respect user privacy while balancing a number of important factors, such as maintaining security and preventing fraud and abuse," Fleischer said. He added that Google was "committed to engaging in a constructive dialogue."

Google described the panel's request as reasonable, however they argue that between 18 and 24 months is a reasonable length of time necessary to turn aside hackers, prevent Internet advertising fraud, and to improve Google's search algorithm. The search giant is expected to answer the EU's privacy concerns before the panel's next meeting at the end of June.

The EU move comes short after a consumer group in the United States asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google's privacy protections after the purchase of online advertising company DoubleClick and it is not the first time European nations have challenged the operating practices of global technology companies.