Search giant urges governments and business leaders to devise international privacy law to secure personal data online.

Speaking at a UNESCO conference in Strasbourg today Peter Fleischer, the company’s privacy counsel, called on international bodies, including the UN, to draft new privacy laws.

Prior to the event Fleischer told the Financial Times newspaper: “Privacy legislation has not kept up with the reality of the internet and technology, where we have vast amounts of information.”

He said that sensitive data can pass several international boundaries “in a matter of minutes” and highlighted the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) privacy guidelines, which were devised almost thirty years ago.

In June, Google was heavily criticised in a study conducted by the campaigning group Privacy International.

It said Google had a “hostile approach to privacy” and the worst privacy record of all the major internet companies because it did little to protect its users.

A month later Google announced plans to change the way it used cookies. Under the terms of its new privacy policy the company said its cookies will now automatically delete after two years – they were previously set to delete in 2038.