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French data watchdog bites Google with €150,000 fine

Zut, privacy flaws
Thu Jan 09 2014, 11:44
Google France

THE FRENCH DATA PROTECTION WATCHDOG CNIL has hit search and advertising giant Google with a €150,000 fine.

The CNIL has fined the firm because of the way it changed its privacy system in 2012. The watchdog has pursued Google and the parties have met on occasion to discuss how this relates to Data Protection laws in Europe. In the eyes of the CNIL, it does not.

"On 1 March 2012, Google decided to merge into one single policy the different privacy policies applicable to about 60 of its services, including Google Search, Youtube, Gmail, Picasa, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Maps, etc. Nearly all internet users in France are impacted by this decision due to the number of services concerned," it said, adding that Google must place a statement on the .fr version of its website before the end of the month.

"This financial penalty is the highest which the Committee has issued until now. It is justified by the number and the seriousness of the breaches stated in the case."

The number seems light, when you consider the impact of the one-privacy-solution-fits-all change made by Google, and its huge revenues.

The search and advertising firm has always stuck by its changes whenever we have asked it about this.

"Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services," has been its regular response. "We have engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward."

The CNIL said that Google should ask its users' permission before dumping cookies on them, and should inform users about how long it keeps data and what it does with it. µ


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