Saturday 9 November 2013


French Watchdog Threatens Google

It seems that the search giant is tired of getting threats from watchdogs all over the world – every day someone barks at Google. Today France’s data-protection watchdog warned that it is going to impose sanctions against the company, after it missed a 3-month deadline to adjust its privacy policy.
CNIL, the French outfit, claimed that it had initiated procedures to fine the search engine after Google failed to meet a deadline to fix its policy on how it gathers and uses information. CNIL pointed out that on the final day before the deadline, the search giant contested the request.

The fine of up to $200,000 is insignificant for Google, which made $10.7 billion in profits last year. However, the fine comes as data-protection agencies in the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are investigating the company’s privacy policy. Google is also facing pressure to adjust its privacy policy in the United States.

A year ago, the tech giant changed its privacy policy in EU to combine over 60 of its services into one. In other words, Google consolidated data collected across the services. This is why consumer groups expressed concern that people might not want the data from those services to be connected.

The French watchdog claimed in June that the company’s new privacy policy was a violation of the local 1978 data protection act. CNIL asked Google to clarify its privacy policy and to modify its data-collection instruments.

Google replied that its privacy policy respects EU law and allows to create simpler, more effective services. The company has engaged fully with the watchdog throughout this process, and is going to continue doing so. The CNIL's move comes in a week when an American judge ruled that the tech giant may violate wiretap legislation when it scans the e-mails of non-Gmail users. This court decision will allow a class action lawsuit against Google, backed by privacy advocates, to move forward.

Judge Lucy Koh also decided that the company’s privacy agreements were less than explicit. She pointed out that a reasonable Gmail user reading the Privacy Policies wouldn’t have necessarily understood that their e-mails were being intercepted in order to create user profiles or to provide targeted advertisements.

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