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Wednesday, January 08, 2014
French Privacy Watchdog Fines Google

The French digital privacy watchdog is fining Google 150,000 euros ($204,000) for breaking rules on ensuring data privacy.

The CNIL's Sanctions Committee said that Google's privacy policy implemented since 1 March 2012 did not comply with the French Data Protection Act. It ordered the company to publish a communique on this decision on its homepage, within eight days as of its notification.

On 1 March 2012, Google decided to merge into one single policy the different privacy policies applicable to about sixty of its services, including Google Search, YouTube, Gmail, Picasa, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Maps, etc.

The G29 (the Working Group of all EU Data Protection Authorities) then decided to carry out an assessment of this privacy policy. It concluded that Google failed to comply with the EU legal framework and correspondingly issued several recommendations, which Google did not effectively follow-up upon. Consequently, six EU Authorities individually initiated enforcement proceedings against the company.

In its decision, CNIL's Sanctions Committee considers that the data processed by the company about the users of its services in France must be qualified as personal data. It also judged that French law applies to the processing of personal data relating to Internet users established in France, contrary to Google's claim.

Google said that throughout the process with the CNIL it has made clear its privacy policy "and how it allows us to create simpler, more effective services." However, Google did not say clarify whether it intends to quickly pay up.

Spain, Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have also opened similar cases against Google.

The penalties that France and most other EU countries can impose remain small compared with the $10.7 billion net profit that Google earned in 2012.

Spain can impose fines of up to 1 million euros, while the German Data Protection Act caps penalties at 300,000 euros.

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