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The Editors

Google Gets Caught in Europe’s Privacy Trap

A $57 million fine could lead to much worse for companies and consumers.

Who’s next?

Who’s next?

Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This week, France’s data-protection regulator demanded that Google pay a record fine for violating Europe’s expansive new privacy rules. The tab? About $57 million. The purpose? Hmm.

In its ruling, the regulator alleged that Google fails to adequately explain how it collects data to offer personalized advertising. Some information is “excessively disseminated” across different documents. Some requires more than one click to find. Some consent boxes are pre-ticked, thereby discouraging careful study. In sum, a user’s consent — even when freely given — is insufficiently “specific” and “unambiguous.”