Google Fined Maximum French Penalty for Privacy Violations

Google Inc. was fined 150,000 euros ($203,500) by France’s data protection watchdog for failing to give people enough details about how and why it uses their personal data.

Google also fails to say how long it stores the data it processes and combines “all the data it collects about its users across all of its services without any legal basis,” France’s National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties, or CNIL, said in a statement on its website today.

The fine follows the 900,000 euro-penalty from Spain’s data watchdog last month for “three serious violations” of the country’s privacy law. The fines are part of several European investigations started after the Mountain View, California-based company made changes to harmonize privacy policies for more than 60 products in 2012.

Watchdogs from the 28-nation EU, that make up the so-called Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, wrote to Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page, saying the company empowers itself to collect vast amounts of personal data about Internet users without demonstrating that this collection was proportionate.

“We’ve engaged fully with the CNIL throughout this process to explain our privacy policy and how it allows us to create simpler, more effective services,” Google said in an e-mailed statement. “We’ll be reading their report closely to determine next steps.”

Maximum Fine

CNIL can levy a maximum fine of 150,000 euros, which can be doubled to 300,000 euros in case of a repeated offense, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, chairwoman of the French authority, said in June.

European privacy regulators from France, Germany, the U.K., Spain, Italy and the Netherlands “coordinated” enforcement measures last year over the company’s failure to address complaints about its new privacy policy. The French agency led the probe on behalf of the EU group to review whether Google’s revisions to its policies violated the bloc’s rules.

The Dutch data protection regulator last year said Google is spinning “an invisible web” by illegally using people’s personal online data and that it may face penalties in the country. In the U.K., Google faces a formal enforcement action unless it changes its policy in line with national rules, the country’s data authority said in July.

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