France, Spain ponder fining Google on privacy violation in PRISM fallout
Whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has told the media that the NSA
secretly gathers user data from nine American companies,
including Google, to track people's movements, contacts and
French data protection watchdog (CNIL) said that Google had
broken the country’s law, giving the US internet giant three
months to change its privacy policies or risk a fine of up to
"There is a mass of personal information floating about on
people in the Google galaxy that people are not even aware
of," Falque-Pierrotin, CNIL President, told Reuters. "All we
are saying to Google is that we would like it to lift the veil a
little on what it's doing."
France’s main concern is the way Google combines anonymous data
from users' browsing histories across its services to better
Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD), in its turn, plans to fine
Google between 40,000 euros and 300,000 for five violations of
the law when it failed to be clear about what it did with data.
Spain believes the company may be processing a
"disproportionate" amount of data and holding onto it for
an "undetermined or unjustified" period of time.
The French CNIL, which has been on the forefront of European
last year, said UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands would be
taking similar action against Google.
"By the end of July, all the authorities within the (EU data
protection) task force will have taken coercive action against
Google," Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin said.
Britain is still deciding whether the web giant has broken its law and says it’ll soon inform the company on its ruling.
Next week, Google is also due to answer allegations on privacy
issue during a hearing in a German court.
Meanwhile, the company says it’ll continue cooperating with the
authorities in France and other European countries.
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 Google’s spokesman said
In March 2012, Google unified its 60 privacy policies into one
and started combining data collected on individual users across
its services, including YouTube, Gmail and Google+ social
network, while giving the users no means to opt out.
CNIL’s main concern is that Google may be combining users’
combined browsing histories from such profiles to better target
The move pushed national data protection regulators across Europe
to begin a joint inquiry into the matter. Penalties cannot be
introduced EU-wide and are done country by country.