Google’s global privacy counsel has hit back at former shadow home secretary David Davis for an article criticising the Conservative Party’s reported plans to hand over medical records to the search giant.

In a lively post on his European Public Policy Blog, Peter Fleischer said Google had been “surprised and disappointed” to read Davis’ “vitriolic” attack in a column in the Times.

Davis’ column was aimed as much at his own party as Google. He described newspaper reports that the Tories might let patients lodge their records with Google Health or Microsoft Health Vault as “naïve” and “dangerous.”

However, he also said that Google was “the last company” he would hand over his records to, citing claims by privacy campaigners that it was “hostile to privacy.”

In his blog, Fleischer said that Davis was attacking “something of a straw man” since Google has “no immediate plans” to bring Google Health to other countries outside the US, where it is in beta.

But he also rebutted some specific accusations about the company, for example that its Street View service invades privacy and that it “exploits” private data.

“We’re proud of our track record of protecting user privacy. We work hard to make sure our users understand what data we collect and how we use it, because we are committed to transparency and user choice,” he wrote.

“The important work of education is made more difficult by polemicists who abuse the truth.”

The blog post does not engage with Davis’ wider argument that while there may be benefits in letting patients “nominate” commercial companies to hold their data, clear rules on security and data usage need to be in place first.

Despite the increasingly heated debate about the role of personal health records, they are not expected to feature strongly in the review of NHS IT commissioned by the Conservative Party, which is due to be published imminently.

Google has announced a number of refinements to Google Health over the past month. It has created ‘advance directive’ forms that allow people to set out their end of life wishes and added a feature that lets patients add scanned medical notes and other forms to their profiles.

The US Department of Defense has also announced that it is creating a MiCare service that will allow military personnel and their families to access personal health records through Google Health, Microsoft Health Vault, and similar services.

Analysis: Vaulting Ambition: E-Health Insider’s US correspondent, Neil Versel, looks at the progress of Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault in the US and at some of the rows surrounding them there.