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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid