Page claims search data key to predicting pandemics

At a press conference in the UK yesterday, Google’s co-founder Larry Page argued that forcing Google to delete information about users’ search behaviour after six months could inhibit its ability to predict pandemics such as swine flu.

The European Commission has said it wants such information to be deleted after six months to prevent third parties being able to build profiles of individuals.

The BBC reported Page saying, "When we released data about Mexico flu trends we had a whole debate. We were worried we would cause panic. But we decided the benefits outweighed the cost."

Page demonstrated how Google had been able to spot a potential pandemic ahead of government agencies because it was using search data, the BBC added, and quoted Page saying, the less data companies like Google were able to hold the "more likely we all are to die".