French watchdog moves to fine Google over refusal to change privacy policy

French watchdog moves to fine Google over refusal to change privacy policy

Summary: France's data protection watchdog is pressing ahead with plans to fine Google for failing to adjust its new privacy policy to comply with the country's law.

TOPICS: Google, Privacy, EU

France's data protection watchdog is moving ahead with sanctions against Google over its new privacy policy.

CNIL (the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés) said on Friday it had commenced formal procedures to sanction Google. The move comes after the search giant didn't meet a three-month deadline the regulator set earlier this year, under which Google was asked to adjust its privacy policy in order to bring it in line with French data protection laws.

Google implemented its new policy in March last year, clearing the way for the company to merge user data gathered from 60 of its services while not offering users any way to opt out of having its data merged and used for targeted advertising. The policy drew the attention of data protection authorities across Europe, with France launching an investigation on the day the new policy came into effect, saying in a letter to the company: "Our preliminary analysis shows that Google's new policy does not meet the requirements of the European Directive on Data Protection (95/46/CE)."

According to a statement by CNIL, Google responded to CNIL's request on the last day of the three-month deadline, and contested the watchdog's reasoning.

CNIL, which fined Google €100,000 in 2011 over its Street View gathering wi-fi data, can issue fines of up to €150,000. While it's a pittance for Google, the company is also facing similar enforcement action from regulators the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.

The UK's Information Commissioner Office in July gave Google until 20 September to adjust its unified privacy policy or else face formal enforcement action. The watchdog can issue fines up to £500,000, while a separate probe by Spanish authorities could result in a €300,000 fine for the company is found to have breached local privacy laws. 

In CNIL's view, Google's policy prevents people from knowing how their data is used and doesn't offer any way to control how it's used. To remedy the shortcomings, it had ordered Google to give users a more detailed account of how data is used, data retention periods, and stall its plans to merge user data across services. 

ZDNet has asked Google for a comment on the story and will update the story if any is received.

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Topics: Google, Privacy, EU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • the socialists from France should stop bullying Google!

    The French people are perfectly happy with google. Their corrupt socialist government should stop messing with google against people's will and return the money immediately!
    LlNUX Geek
    • ?

      What makes you think that “the French people are perfectly happy with google”? Do you have a poll to back up that claim?

      What makes you think that the French government is any more “corrupt” than the U.S. government, with its endless spying on allies, the trillions poured into defence, the endless invasion of countries that they disapprove of, the billions they stole from the Iraqi people, the lies they tell their own voters about WMDs and Al Queda in Iraq, the murder of reporters in Afghanistan (as documented in “Collateral Murder”), and so forth and so on?

      Labelling a government “socialist” isn’t an argument, even when it is true.
  • Excellent!!!!

    Finally, something is being done about it!

    The only thing though, the fine should be much more than that, an amount that really puts a dent on Google massive wealth!!!

    Why not a fine for event? For every user for every use. In that way it would be significant otherwise, it's just petty cash for Google.