News / Science & Technology

France, Spain Take Action Against Google on Privacy

FILE - A Google sign is seen at a Best Buy electronics store in Encinitas, California, Apr. 11, 2013.
FILE - A Google sign is seen at a Best Buy electronics store in Encinitas, California, Apr. 11, 2013.
Reuters
France and Spain led a Europe-wide push on Thursday to get U.S. Internet giant Google to change its policies on collecting user data.
 
News that the U.S. National Security Agency under the PRISM surveillance program secretly gathered user data from nine U.S. companies, including Google, to track people's movements and contacts makes the timing especially sensitive for Google.
 
France's data protection watchdog (CNIL) said Google had broken French law and gave it three months to change its privacy policies or risk a fine of up to 150,000 euros ($200,000).
 
Spain's Data Protection Agency (AEPD) told Google it would be fined between 40,000 euros and 300,000 euros for each of the five violations of the law, that it had failed to be clear about what it did with data, may be processing a “disproportionate” amount and holding onto it for an “undetermined or unjustified” period of time.
 
The CNIL, which has been leading Europe's inquiry since Google launched its consolidated privacy policy in March 2012, said Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands would be taking similar action against the world's No. 1 search engine.
 
Google could face fines totalling several million euros.
 
“By the end of July, all the authorities within the [EU data protection] task force will have taken coercive action against Google,” said CNIL President Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin.
 
Last year, Google consolidated its 60 privacy policies into one and started combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and social network Google+. It gave users no means to opt out.
 
National data protection regulators in Europe began a joint inquiry as a result. They gave Google until February to propose changes but it did not make any. Google had several meetings with the watchdogs and argued that combining its policies made it easier for users to understand.
 
The CNIL's move is seen by legal experts and policymakers as a test of Europe's ability to influence the behavior of international Internet companies.
 
Britain is still considering whether its law has been broken and will write to Google soon with its findings, the CNIL said.
 
And Google is due to answer allegations on the issue in a German court hearing late next week, a spokesman for the country's data protection regulator said.
 
Google said it would continue to work with the authorities in France and elsewhere.
 
“Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with the authorities involved throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward,” a spokesman said by email.

Ring-Fences
 
CNIL's Falque-Pierrotin said the Prism scandal had highlighted the fact people were hungry for more transparency and for there to be ring-fences around their personal data.
 
European citizens and leading politicians have expressed outrage that they have no legal rights to protect themselves from such spying, and U.S. President Barack Obama was forced to defend PRISM at length during a news conference on a trip to Germany on Wednesday.
 
“There is a mass of personal information floating about on people in the Google galaxy that people are not even aware of,” Falque-Pierrotin said. “All we are saying to Google is that we would like it to lift the veil a little on what it's doing.”
 
Chief among CNIL's concerns was the way Google combines anonymous data from users' browsing histories across its services to better target advertising.
 
Google can either negotiate with national regulators and change elements of its privacy policy or challenge their authority to impose changes in court.
 
Penalties cannot be imposed EU-wide and must be done country by country. But the European Parliament is debating a draft data protection law under which transgressors could be fined as much as two percent of their yearly global turnover.
 
Privacy issues are not Google's only legal headache in Europe. It is seeking to settle a three-year probe with antitrust regulators into whether it squeezes out online rivals in search results. Brussels has also started looking into Google's Android software that runs mobile phones, to see if it crimps competition in the handset market.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs