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Did Google Violate Dutch Privacy Laws?
Did Google Violate Dutch Privacy Laws?

By Seth Fitzgerald
November 29, 2013 11:25AM

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Since Google introduced its most recent privacy policy, the Netherlands and six other European countries have looked into the legality of the policies. Now a privacy watchdog group in the Netherlands says Google violated privacy laws in that country by not obtaining users' consent to use their information across all its services.
 



An investigation into Google's services has been underway in the Netherlands for seven months and it appears as though a Dutch privacy watchdog has come to the conclusion that Google violated laws in the country.

The laws in question apply to Google's decision to share user information among its services, which may be illegal in the Netherlands. According to the watchdog, Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA), companies are only allowed to gather user information for one specific purpose, which would make sharing that data among various services illegal.

User Consent

Whether or not Google violated laws in the Netherlands comes down to if the search giant obtained users' consent to use their information among all of Google's services. If DPA is correct, not only did Google fail to obtain consent to use data throughout its services but it never even received consent to collect any data.

"Google spins an invisible web of our personal data, without consent," said DPA Chairman Jacob Kohnstamm. "That is forbidden by law."

Situations such as this one usually result in a lawsuit and Google has already taken a defensive stance, assuring the DPA that it put forth detailed information regarding how user information would be used and collected before it built user profiles.

“Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services,” said Al Verney, a Brussels-based spokesman for Google. “We have engaged fully with the Dutch data protection authority throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward.”

Although Google may have respected the law when collecting data from whichever service the user initially signed up for, sharing data between Google Search and YouTube for example, would be illegal. Unless Google had its users agree to the privacy terms for each service, it may have indeed broken the law in the Netherlands.

Not The Only One

Since Google introduced its most recent privacy policy, the Netherlands and six other European countries have looked into the legality of the policies. The efforts to determine if Google had broken the law in any of the countries was "coordinated" according to an earlier report, and those efforts have already yielded discoveries that may lead to lawsuits.

In June, Spain became one of the first European countries to call out Google over its new privacy policy. In doing so, the Spain's Data Protection Agency revealed that both Google Spain and Google Inc. had introduced new terms in their policies that potentially violated laws within the country. At the time, the agency determined that Google would face fines up to $408,000 for six violations.

The DPA has already requested that Google representatives attend an upcoming hearing at which point the agency will decide which laws were violated and what punishment is warranted.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

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Good Common Sense:

Posted: 2013-11-30 @ 8:24am PT
Not sharing data amongst different services without user's explicit consent is plain common sense. All of Silicon Valley should be punished for that. Google is not alone. Apple, of its own initiative, consolidated multiple Apple IDs without considering that a family may share its music on a single Apple ID, but each of the family's member wants privacy using their own iPhone with a separate Apple ID. So now parents have access to their kid's private text messages; spouses have access to their partners private text messages; where does it end? Are we all to become little ants toiling to assemble big data for Silicon Valley to make big money, at the expense of our own lives? No *f* way. Time to dismantle this bad Silicon Valley business model and take again control of our lives.



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