Spain fines Google maximum amount for breaking data law over merged privacy policy

Spanish privacy watchdog said the merging of its 70 privacy policies into one broke the country's law. But the fine amounts to nothing for Google, which can make it back in minutes.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Spanish privacy watchdogs have fined Google for breaking the country's law when it combined more than 70 privacy policies into one user information sharing policy last year.

The €900,000 ($1.23 million) fine comes at a time when the search giant is under increasing pressure from European authorities and local governments over its privacy policies and business practices.

Under the new privacy policy, created in March 2012, Google was then able to share user data from one service to another, which the search giant claimed at the time enhanced the experience for the end user.

But critics claim the new "data-sharing policy" allows Google to build up a more specific and accurate picture of its users. Although the data remains anonymous to the likes of advertisers, privacy groups previously warned that the collection of data makes it far easier to pinpoint who the user is.

At least six countries began investigating the move following the privacy policy merger.

Dutch authorities launched a similar probe and said in November the move was also in breach of the country's law.

"Inspections have shown that Google compiles personal information through close to one hundred services and products it offers in Spain, without providing in many cases the adequate information about the data that is being gathered, why it is gathered and without obtaining the consent of the owners," according to a statement from the Spanish Agency for Data Protection, according to Reuters which first reported the story.

The agency said users were not sufficiently informed, and the language in the policy was unclear and generic in places.

Google said it would consult the report and decide on further action at a later date, according to the wire service.

The fine — though maximum under Spanish law, but modest to Google after making $50.2 billion in revenue last year — can be recouped by the search giant in less than 3 minutes, based on its last quarterly earnings.

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