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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid