France leads European round of attacks against Google's privacy policy

National privacy commission threaten fines of up to €300,000
if policies are not changed within 3 months.

Google has come under fire once more over privacy concerns, this time from a consortium of European nations. France’s data protection watchdog, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) has announced that the search giant will face heavy fines if it does not rewrite its privacy policy within the next three months.

As Google’s privacy policy currently stands it is in breach of French law as it “prevents individuals from knowing how their personal data may be used and from controlling such use.”

The CNIL is threatening Google with a fine of up to €150,000 (£128,000) and a second payment of €300,000 (£256,000) if it fails to comply with its six requirements. These include limits on how long users’ data is kept and a ban on combining individuals’ data “without legal basis.”

The dispute between France and Google has been on-going since early 2012, when the web firm altered its privacy policy so that 60 different services it controls (including the likes of Google+, Gmail and YouTube) could co-ordinate their data on specific individuals.

The CNIL’s threats are not unusual. The most severe fine France has levied against Google so far was for €100,000 in 2011 for breaches incurred by the company’s Street View mapping service. Hamburg (where Google has its main German base) also fined Google for €145,000 in April this year after data concerning individuals’ wireless-networks was collected by Street View cars.

Although France is currently spearheading the legal action, it has the backing of 27 European privacy commissioners who asked France to lead enquiries on their behalf last October. Six other countries will be following this current bout of legislation with their own formal investigations.

“France, Spain, the U.K. at the start of next week and Germany at the end of next week will all take a formal and official decision to start repressive proceedings against Google,” said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, Chairwoman of the CNIL, “and a second salvo will come from Italy and the Netherlands by the end of July.”

As well as limits on data retention and combining datasets, the CNIL is also asking that Google request users’ approval before collecting information via services such as DoubleClick and Google+ ‘+1’ buttons (the equivalent of the Facebook like). These are tools operated by Google but that run on third-party websites.

Falque-Pierrotin did note, however, that the notice given by the CNIL “isn’t very prescriptive” and that they are “leaving Google some leeway to reach compliance.”

An official statement from Google said: "Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with the authorities involved throughout this process, and we'll continue to do so going forward."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

    £35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

    Recruitment Genius: Application Support Engineer - Software

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A small rapidly expanding IT So...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

    £30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

    Guru Careers: Account Executive

    £18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada