wiping data 'hits flu prediction'

Google's co-founder, Larry Page has claimed that forcing it to delete user data after six months hinders its ability to predict pandemics such as swine flu.

He said he thought more debate was needed around the issue of storing user data.

The EC wants data to be deleted after six months but Mr Page said there were benefits to users.

"More dialogue is needed [with regulators]," he told UK journalists.

Google's ability to plot and predict potential pandemics would not be possible if the firm had to delete search data after six months.

"When we released data about Mexico flu trends we had a whole debate," he said.

"We were worried we would cause panic. But we decided the benefits outweighed the cost."

Mr Page said deleting search data after six months was "in direct conflict" with being able to map pandemics.

In a demo Google showed that it had been able to spot a potential pandemic ahead of government agencies because it was using search data.

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