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Google Data Privacy Rules Curb Users’ Rights, German Court Says

Google Inc., which has faced scrutiny from privacy regulators across Europe, was told by a German court that 25 provisions in its data protection rules limit the rights of its users.

A Berlin court yesterday struck down the provisions in the company’s general data-use terms, ruling that they violated German law, a consumer group said in a statement.

“The decision is an important signal for IT companies,” Gerd Billen, head of the group, Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, said in the statement. “They have to change their approach to data protection and take seriously German data protection and consumer rules.”

Google, owner of the world’s most-used search engine, reached a $17 million settlement with 37 U.S. states this month over its circumvention of privacy settings for some users. Google and Facebook Inc. are among U.S. Internet companies that have come under pressure in the 28-nation European Union over their use of personal data.

Google said in a statement that it will appeal the ruling. “We believe our terms of service and privacy policy comply with all applicable laws,” the Mountain View, California-based company said.

Under proposed EU rules, U.S. companies could face fines of as much as 100 million euros ($135 million) for data protection violations.

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