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Google Could Face Fines by France over Privacy
Google Could Face Fines by France over Privacy

By Jennifer LeClaire
September 27, 2013 1:05PM

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What's at stake? France could impose a maximum fine of $203,000 and $406,000 if Google doesn't comply with demands to change its privacy policy. Google could also be facing fines from multiple regulators across Europe, which would set the stage for multimillion-dollar fines and a tarnished image.
 

Related Topics

Privacy
Google
European Union



France isn't dropping its privacy beef with Google. French officials on Friday took another step closer to fining the search engine giant, deciding for the moment to impose sanctions on the company for failing to change its privacy policy.

France's CNIL (La Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes) declared it would start "a formal procedure for imposing sanctions, according to the provisions laid down in the French data protection law."

France's moves come in the wake of the European Union's Article 29 Working Party investigation into the company's privacy policies. From March to October of 2012, the group reviewed whether or not Google was meeting the requirements of the EU's Data Protection Directive.

France: Google Didn't Cooperate

"On 19 March 2013, representatives of Google Inc. were invited at their request to meet with the task force led by the CNIL and composed of data protection authorities of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United-Kingdom. Following this meeting, no change has been seen," CNIL said in a statement.

After finding Google did not comply with the requirements, regulators gave the company four months to make changes necessary to comply. Google contested the French request for data the day before the deadline, "notably the applicability of the French data protection law to the services used by residents in France," according to CINL.

Each nation is now carrying out further investigations according to the provisions of its national law implementing the European regulations. All authorities in the task force launched actions in April. But France is the most aggressive.

Google Says It's Engaged

Google could not immediately be reached for comment. But Al Verney, a Brussels-based spokesman for Google, told Bloomberg, "Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We've engaged fully with CNIL throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward."

What's at stake? CNIL could impose a maximum fine of $203,000 and $406,000 if the offense is repeated. But, again, Google could be facing fines from multiple regulators across Europe, which would set the stage for multimillion-dollar fines and a tarnished image.

We asked Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, for his take on the latest news. He told us he's going to Brussels Monday to speak in Parliament but has no news on France's decision about how much to fine Google.

"I know there's a lot of effort to get the privacy commissioners to work together and to try to coordinate with the European commission itself," Rotenberg said. "Maybe they thought Google would be more responsive, but I think we are kind of reaching the end of the ballgame and they are going to have to make a decision."
 

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StopGoogle:

Posted: 2013-09-28 @ 11:13am PT
It is time that somebody stands up to google.
(1) their motto, "organizing the world's information", fails to recognize that the information does not belong the world, it belongs to those who produced it and can't be simply perused as google pleases;
(2) their assertion, that gmail users should expect their emails to be read, is unreasonably wrong. the post office does not read my mail, so should not my internet mail service provider;
(3) while google may hide such a clause in the usage terms that it unconscionably imposes on gmail users, it still has no right to read and data mine that part of the messages that has been written (and is owned) by the correspondent of the gmail user who is not a gmail user and has not signed up for the service;
(4) Google should finally recognize that people may want to share only part of their information, and only for specific purpose.
Until then, even if the US regulators keep looking the other side (because of the unholy alliance of privacy infringing tech companies doing the surveillance work that the US government is constitutionally prevented from doing), we are lucky to have France, Brazil, and other strong sovereign government advancing our interest.

Google is an advertising company (95% of their revenues!). Advertising is corruption. It is corrupting morals and incentivating consumers to behaviours that are detrimental to their interest. I want to see the 5% of Google that is not advertising price their services and sell them with a full privacy guarantee, rather than giving them away for free and putting the price tag on the back of consumers and selling their souls to the highest bidding advertiser.



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