EU justice chief says Google would have been fined $1bn if European member states supported tougher sanctions in an upcoming refresh of European data protection law.
In a bid to drum up support among member states for tougher pan-European data protection laws, Viviene Reding, the EC justice commissioner, has reminded European lawmakers that the union's current enforcement powers aren't up to the task of tackling multinationals.
"Taking Google's 2012 performance figures, the fine in France represents 0.0003 percent of its global turnover. Pocket money," said Reding.
A sum that Google would have found much harder to brush off would be the two percent of global turnover, a figure which had been included in earlier drafts of the legislation.
"In the Google case, that would have meant a fine of €731m [$1bn]," said Reding.
A European Parliament last October voted in favour of even harsher penalties of up to five percent of global revenue. However, the proposals hit a snag in December when Germany resisted the 'one stop shop' idea they contained, citing concerns that a single European data protection authority may compromise Germany's existing data protection laws.
"Member states... have been stalling," said Reding. "Even after the shocking revelations of mass spying and surveillance which continue to dominate the headlines, they have so far mainly reacted with words. EU heads of state and government have committed to a 'timely' adoption of the new framework. But in real terms there has been little action."